Sugar beets are an important plant grown for the production of sugar. In fact, 54% of all of the U.S.’s sugar comes from sugar beets. The white, bulbous root is planted in large fields before it is seasonally harvested using large machines.
The goal of the harvester is to pull the beets out of the ground, while preventing as much dirt as possible from being collected as well. Once collected, the beets are sent off to plants to be cleaned and processed.
In beet harvesting equipment, the shafts all ride on ball bearings. They are located in close proximity to the ground, where the removal of beets creates a very harsh environment.
Accumulation of humus on the bearings is a constant problem. Typically, the bearings last for a single season before they need to be removed and replaced. These machines cover about 5-6 acres/hr with the ball bearings running at an approximate speed of 500 RPM.
In particular, there are 3 locations where this machine’s bearings are being reviewed. All of these locations are subject to large accumulations of humus:
- Front conversion roll
- Kicker shaft
- #1 roll
The customer was using a triple lip seal designed insert on their harvesting equipment. The triple lip design featured three in line seals that all ride on the same surface. Despite the triple lip seal, the dirty environment leads to the bearings being replaced every year.
The replacement cost is estimated at $35,000 annually. This led the customer to look for a more reliable solution that would be able to last more than a year.
Based on the harsh nature of the application, Extreme Duty Baldor-Dodge Ball Bearings with upgraded seals and cage were offered as a solution. The Baldor-Dodge QuadGuard seal features a triple-lip seal that has two points of contact on the inner ring and one on the flinger compared to the competitor’s three on the inner seal. Placing a point of contact on the flinger provides better contamination prevention and reduces the friction between the shaft and the seals. Additionally, it contains a rubberized flinger that further protects from foreign debris and enhances the removal of unwanted liquid.
The upgraded cage optimizes the retention of grease and ensures an oil film will always exist between ball and raceway. This minimizes friction and heat, resulting in longer life.
The first set of Extreme Duty Baldor-Dodge Ball Bearings were provided and examined after 100-125 hours (or 600 acres) of run time. Upon examination, the bearings still appear to be in good condition. TCO in savings from the expected 2-season cycle of the bearings comes out to approximately $30,000 in savings annually.