Size matters

Size matters

Giant rigs at SKF’s new test center in Germany enable full-size tests of very large bearings.

Text & Photo Dietmar Seidel

Cylindrical roller bearings Research & Theory

Sales contact

evolution@skf.com

with the aim of making decisive progress in the development of upcoming large-size bearing technologies, SKF has invested some $45 million in a groundbreaking project in Germany.

Two new test rigs at the Sven Wingquist Test Center in Schweinfurt will help improve current simulation models and contribute to the resource-saving and highly customized production of future large-size bearings.

A 125-metric-ton steel disc plays an important role at the heart of the larger of the two innovative rigs. By means of this 23-foot discus, the bundled forces of 64 axial and radial cylinders are transferred to the bearing under the test.

As a result, stresses that affect a wind energy bearing over the course of about 20 years can be depicted very realistically within a few weeks. This saves a lot of time and energy during the tests – more so as the waste heat from the rigs is reused by a heat-recovery system.

The insights gained from both the larger test rig and the smaller one will provide for new, much more energy-efficient manufacturing technologies, which will significantly reduce material consumption.

The “Goliath” test rig is being sponsored by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology, with some $2.1 million; the smaller “David” (testing large bearings for various heavy industry applications) has been included in the Environmental Innovation Program of Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. This rig is funded by the government with about $1.7 million.

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