Self-lubricating bearing manufacturer Vesconite Bearings is ensuring that its internally lubricated polymers and polymer bearings for fishing boats are exported faster to Mauritius so that prompt maintenance can take place.
“Vesconite Bearings has been engaging with its courier company to speed up delivery of bearings to the Indian Ocean island, with a guarantee that, if dispatch orders are booked in before 10:00 South African time, they will be flown to Mauritius on the 13:00 flight,” says Vesconite Bearings technical sales consultant Eddie Swanepoel.
He adds that bearings orders will be delivered to the customer’s door the following day, as long as there are no difficulties with customs clearance.
Swanepoel says the company’s polymers are popular materials for rudder bushes and stern tubes, without which it is impossible to steer or propel a boat.
“Stern tubes connect the boat’s propeller to the engine, which is situated in the interior of the boat. Rudder bearings allow the rudder to move so that the boat can be steered,” he explains.
Apart from Mauritian boats, French and Chinese fishing boats are also repaired in Mauritius’ capital city, Port Louis.
Bearing Industry Demands
Vesconite Bearings supplies various industries that the Mauritian economy is dependent on, such as the sugar, marine and fabrics sectors.
Hitemp 150, according to Swanepoel, is the polymer of choice in a variety of applications in the sugar sector.
The bearing polymer performs “well” when applied in the sugar sector when in contact with massecuite – the hot, gritty viscous mixture of liquified sugar granules – as a result of the polymer’s high temperature tolerance, low frictional qualities and wear resistance.
Swanepoel says bearing breakdowns can impact on mills as they might be unable to produce sugar.
“The sector prefers the use of materials that have good wear characteristics, which reduce unplanned maintenance, downtime and repair expenses,” he notes.
Vesconite, Vesconite Hilube and Hitemp 150 are used in applications where lubrication is not possible, there is likely to be considerable wear, swelling is undesirable and metal-on-metal wear needs to be eliminated.
“The bearing polymers further offer solutions that increase the intervals between maintenance and reduce breakdowns, which saves money in the long run,” Swanepoel says.
Both Vesconite and Vesconite Hilube low friction materials for long-life bearings are designed to operate with little or no lubrication.
“Vesconite has high dimensional stability and does not swell in water, in contrast to many synthetic materials, which swell in water. It combines a load-carrying capacity greater than white metal with self-lubricating properties better than nylon,” he highlights.
Swanepoel highlights that a bearing’s life span is primarily dependent on timeous maintenance to keep bearings in working order.
“Bearings have to be greased or lubricated on a regular basis to prevent metal-on-metal wear. “When the maintenance is neglected, the bearing starts to fail,” he points out.
Swanepoel highlights that maintenance on Vesconite bearings is not onerous, owing to its self- lubricating characteristics.
“The life span of a self-lubricating bearing can be extended with maintenance such as greasing. A Vesconite or Vesconite Hilube bearing’s life span can also be extended by greasing, though it will not operate for a considerable time without greasing,” he advises.
Meanwhile, Swanepoel says Vesconite Bearings’ factory in Virginia, in the Free State, is reeling from the ramifications of the decline in South Africa’s gold mining sector.
“The town of about 60 000 people has a youth unemployment rate of close to 50% and the lack of diversification of the regional economy away from gold is a major reason for the high youth and adult unemployment rates,” he says.
Swanepoel mentions, however, that Vesconite Bearings is experiencing sales growth and provides employment for 78 staff and 30 learners, which includes apprentices.
Vesconite Hilube, a pump bearing material used in various critical pump bearing applications, is used for support bearings, lineshaft bearings and wear rings in vertical turbine, sump and other pumps.
The bearings’ characteristics includes a low wear rate and the ability to start dry.
Vesconite Hilube pump bearing applications include flood water and river pumps, firefighting and service water pumps for offshore oil drilling platforms, high-pressure bilge pumps, cooling water pumps for power stations, irrigation and potable water supply pumps and high-pressure dewatering pumps for underground mines.