Drives and Controls Magazine
Hybrid bearing life prediction model is ‘the world’s first’
Published:  28 June, 2019

After seven years of development work, SKF has produced a model that, it says, allows the working lives of hybrid bearings to be determined realistically for the first time. Called the Generalised Bearing Life Model (GBLM), it will help to choose the best bearing for an application.

Until now, it has been difficult to predict whether a hybrid bearing would out-perform a steel one in a particular application, or whether the possible performance benefits that hybrid bearings bring would be worth their higher cost. Conventional equations used to calculate the rating lives of bearings do not reflect the real-world performance of hybrid designs.

To tackle this issue, SKF engineers started to work on the new model in 2012. An initial version was presented at the Hannover Fair in 2015, but it was not ready yet to perform calculations for hybrid bearings. Four more years of development were needed by researchers in the Netherlands and Austria to add this ability to the GBLM.

Using the model, SKF engineers can now determine the real-world benefits of hybrid bearings. In the case of a poorly lubricated pump bearing, for example, the rating life of a hybrid bearing can be up to eight times longer than that of a steel equivalent. For a screw compressor bearing running with contaminated lubricant, the hybrid offers a rating lifetime 100 times longer than that of a conventional steel bearing.

SKF researchers have taken seven years to develop the new model that can predict the lives of hybrid bearings

“SKF has always been at the forefront of developing new methods for calculating bearing life,” says Guillermo Morales-Espejel, principal scientist at SKF Research and Technology Development. “GBLM is a giant leap for bearing science and will enable better choices to be made when selecting bearings for a wide variety of applications.”

At present, GBLM can be used to model hybrid deep-groove ball bearings and hybrid cylindrical roller bearings via the online SKF Bearing Select service. More advanced calculations are available using SKF internal calculation tools that support application engineers in customer projects.