Bearings used in produce processing facilities must be resistant to very wet environments
H1 lubricants typically have synthetic, hydrocarbon base oils with urea, polyurea, or aluminum complex thickeners. H2 lubricants typically have mineral or PFPE base oils with calcium soap or PTFE thickeners. Solid lubricants can be used in very demanding applications. These are oil-filled polymers, or grease and polymer mixtures, that solidify once heated and cooled. Solid lubricants can eliminate problems with grease leakage and emulsification, especially when water is present.
Lubricants need to provide good wear and corrosion resistance. Those used in high temperature applications such as meat, poultry and beverage processing should have high temperature oxidation stability. Machinery used in beef, pork and poultry processing is typically exposed to washdown procedures, which use high pressure water and anti-bacterial solutions that can displace the grease. To avoid this displacement, greases with high resistance to water washout are used, with fill amounts in the range of 70–100 percent (as opposed to a typical fill amount of 30 percent.) While the large fill amount limits rotational speed, it significantly improves bearing life.
Thousands of greases and oils are readily available, designed for a wide variety of operating conditions. Features, benefits and price are all important factors to consider when making a choice. Both a lubrication specialist and the bearing manufacturer should be consulted before making a final lubricant selection.
Bearings used in meat processing facilities, which require frequent washdowns, must be able to withstand harsh cleaning procedures such as high-pressure sprays of water or chemicals.
Bearing life plays a key role in optimizing uptime, efficiency and reliability of equipment used in the food processing industry. Bearings are exposed to extremely harsh conditions in these applications, and designers must consider protection from corrosion and contamination while maximizing lubricant life. Materials, sealing solutions and lubrication—along with operational loading—should be carefully evaluated in the bearing selection process to achieve desired bearing life.
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