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NKE Austria has developed a modular bearing system for planetary gears in wind turbine gearboxes for the standardisation of bearings, a reduced diversity of parts and simplified logistics.

The system is already in use in the 1.5MW, 2MW and 2.5MW wind turbine gearboxes of a German gearbox manufacturer.

Most wind turbines use gearboxes to transform the relatively low rotational speed of the main shaft into higher speeds required for power generation.

Because the forces a modern wind turbine gearbox has to transmit are forever increasing while the gearbox itself has to remain compact, single- or two-stage planetary gearboxes are commonly used.

The bearings of the planetary gears are among the highest-loaded in this specific application.

In modern gearboxes, an integrated planetary bearing arrangement is used, in which cylindrical roller bearings without an outer ring are fitted in the planetary gears, with the bore of the gear forming the outer raceway.

The modular concept is based on single-row cylindrical roller bearings of the RN range, which do not have an outer ring.

These bearings are equipped with a one-piece solid brass cage, which is guided by the inner ring (MPB).

This cage features inspection grooves for endoscopic inspection of the inner raceways as standard.

These single row bearings can be assembled to sets of two, three or four bearings to conform with the individual load and design parameters of a specific gearbox.

NKE supplies ready-to-install matched bearing sets.

The tightly toleranced overall height of each individual bearing and the precise matching of these ensures an even distribution of the radial loads.

Each bearing set includes the components required to secure the bearings axially in the planetary gears – such as retaining rings and loose rib rings.

If required, the overall width of each bearing set can be adapted to the operating conditions and the available space with spacer rings fitted between the individual bearings.

Used consistently throughout the gearbox assembly, the modular concept has numerous advantages for the user: the designs of planetary bearings can be simplified; the bearing design can be standardised for the first and second gear stage and across various gearbox sizes; the required number of bearing variants is reduced; the modular design simplifies the adaptation of bearing set characteristics to the requirements of each gear stage; the one-piece solid brass cage provides excellent rolling element guidance even during rapid acceleration; and the lubrication grooves provided as standard improve the lubrication of the planetary gear bearings.

Each bearing set is packaged as a unit and is marked to prevent inadvertent swapping of matched components within each set.

NKE AUSTRIA GmbH – a manufacturer of premium bearings – was founded in 1996 by a group of senior staff members of the former company Steyr Wälzlager. Within a decade, the NKE brand has emerged on the world bearing market as a significant alternative in the premium class.

We offer both standard and special bearings for all industrial applications as well as technical services, including product development, application engineering, consulting, documentation and training.

NKE’s core functions – such as engineering, product development, final processing of components, modular assembly, quality assurance, logistics, sales and marketing – are centralised at our headquarters in Steyr, Austria. The site is certified to ISO9001:2008,  ISO14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001. In April 2006, NKE was awarded the Austria Quality Seal in recognition of its high quality standards.

Today, NKE bearings are distributed in more than 60 countries through over 240 distributors and 18 international representative offices

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