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AETC has recouped significant amounts of money in efficiency savings after consulting Brammer, a distributor of industrial maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) products and services.

The high-precision machining company, which manufactures components such as turbine blades for the aerospace industry, was replacing very high numbers of bearings in its CNC machines.

These bearings were constantly failing, leading to considerable downtime and the cost of replacement products.

Experts from Brammer were called in to assess the problem and help reduce the cost of replacing the bearings.

Brammer was able to provide detailed analysis of the bearing failures, together with strategic supplier Timken.

This enabled specific failure modes to be identified, with technical solutions being introduced to increase mean-time-between-failure and reduce downtime.

The bearing failures were typically due to poor fitting – a factor that industry research shows is responsible for 16 per cent of all premature bearing failures – and inadequate lubrication, which is responsible for more than a third of failures.

Indeed, experts from Brammer and Timken were even able to diagnose problems caused by running different brands of bearing simultaneously within one machine.

It was clear that the installation and maintenance of the bearings needed to be prioritised throughout the business and so Brammer set up a number of training sessions to help educate and inform managers and engineers of best practice in bearing specification and maintenance.

Andrew Pimm of AETC said: ‘A greater understanding of the reasons for bearing failure has helped to adjust our attitude to the way we service and monitor our equipment here.

‘With significant increases in operational efficiency and cost savings on replacement bearings alone, the training has given us a lot more confidence in replacing our bearings.

‘We know what to look out for and what products to specify when replacements are needed.

‘Crucially, there is an understanding among management and engineers that even the smallest bearings need to be correctly specified to ensure optimum efficiency of our machines,’ he added.

Since the assessment and training, the cost savings have already started to impact on the company’s profitability.

It is estimated that AETC will have to spend GBP5000 less on replacement products as the lifecycle of the bearings is much longer.

Chris MacLaren of Brammer said: ‘This is a fine example of how something as small and seemingly insignificant such as a bearing can play a huge part in operating costs and efficiency.’

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