What is the development trend of the global bearing industry?
Bearing is a key mechanical component in the manufacturing industry chain. It can not only reduce friction, but also support load, transmit power and maintain positioning, so as to promote the efficient operation of equipment.
The bearing industry can be considered as a traditional industry dominated by enterprises, which have been running efficiently for decades. Over the past few years, only a few industry trends have stood out, are more dynamic than ever, and are likely to play an important role in shaping the industry this decade.
The following is the focus of bearing research and development and the future development direction:
In industry (especially automotive and aerospace), there is a growing trend of "integrated bearings", and the surrounding parts of bearings become inaccessible parts of bearings themselves. This type of bearing was developed to minimize the number of bearing parts in the final assembly product. Therefore, the use of "integrated bearings" reduces equipment cost, increases reliability, provides easier installation, and extends service life. The demand for "application-specific solutions" is growing globally and is generating great customer interest. The bearing industry is turning to develop new special bearings. Therefore, bearing suppliers provide professional custom bearings to adapt to the special requirements of agricultural machinery, automotive turbochargers and other applications.
2. Life prediction & condition monitoring
Bearing designers use complex simulation software tools to better match bearing designs to actual operating conditions. Bearing design and analysis today uses computers and analysis codes with reasonable engineering certainty that can predict bearing performance, life and reliability beyond the level of a decade ago and without the need for expensive and time-consuming experiments or field tests. Knowing when things start to go wrong has become increasingly important as people demand more from existing assets in terms of increased output and efficiency. Unplanned equipment failures can be costly and can have catastrophic consequences, leading to unplanned production shutdowns, expensive part replacements, and safety and environmental issues. Bearing condition monitoring can dynamically monitor various equipment parameters, which is helpful to detect faults before catastrophic failures occur. Bearing OEMs are constantly working to develop "smart bearings" with sensing functions. This technology enables the bearing to continuously communicate its condition through internally powered sensors and data acquisition electronics.
3. Materials & Coatings
Advanced materials extend the service life of bearings even in harsh working conditions. The bearing industry is now using materials that were not readily available a few years ago, such as hard coatings, ceramics and new speciality steels. These materials can greatly improve performance and efficiency. In some cases, special bearing materials allow heavy equipment to operate effectively without lubricants. These materials, along with specific heat treatment conditions and geometry, are capable of handling extreme temperatures and treatment conditions such as particle contamination and extreme loads.
Over the past few years, the improvement of rolling element and raceway surface textures and the addition of wear-resistant coatings have accelerated significantly. For example, the development of tungsten carbide coated balls that are both wear-resistant and corrosion-resistant has been a major development. These bearings are ideal for high stress, high impact, low lubrication and high temperature conditions.
R&D spending appears to be a market-leading strategic decision as the global bearing industry deals with regulatory requirements for emissions, increased safety standards, lighter products with less friction and noise, increased reliability expectations, and fluctuations in global steel prices. In addition, most organizations continue to focus on accurate demand forecasting and integrate digitalization into manufacturing to achieve a global advantage.