With 50% of its products exported from South Africa, specialised polymer manufacturer Vesconite Bearings continues to reinforce its presence in international markets as companies abroad maintain interest in its product offering.
With the expected purchase of locomotive axle box pedestal liners by an Argentina-based rail company, Vesconite Bearings technical representative Paul Potgieter says the sale will provide motivation for more international long-term customers to become part of the company’s client base.
Vesconite Bearings quoted the company for a test order of 50 locomotive axle box pedestal liners that will cater for about three locomotives, as one locomotive requires 16 pedestal liners, says Potgieter.
“We have been supplying pedestal liners for about 30 years and we are committed to the further testing and research of new applications to determine what can be improved.”
The liners will enable the axle to move freely in any axial direction, reducing flange, tyre and rail wear. They are also self-lubricating and offer the advantage of reduced noise, no fatigue cracking and maintenance savings.
“We do not foresee any major challenges in securing this order, as well as shipping it to Argentina; we have the capacity to produce substantial quantities of these products,” notes Potgieter.
He adds that Vesconite Bearings’ products are easier to install than metal liners, owing to their being lightweight. One person can install them, whereas traditional metal liners require two to three people for installation.
Vesconite Bearings serves local rail operating companies, such as State-owned freight utility Transnet Freight Rail and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, which require replacement load pads for long heavy-haul railway locomotives.
The replacement load pads have eliminated problems such as low friction performance and wheels running out of alignment causing high wear.
Further, Vesconite Bearings fitted ore wagons for a railway line operating in the Arctic. The railway required centre liners that could function in subzero temperatures while carrying fully loaded iron-ore wagons.
This combination of high load and freezing conditions resulted in traditional liners wearing out quicker than usual.
The Vesconite centre liners can withstand temperatures of up to –40 ºC, with easy machining and fitting, as well as smooth running bogies on straight and curved tracks.
Its international supply credentials also include an Australian rail company that uses Vesconite Bearings’ Hilube side-bearer guides on its locomotives’ passenger cars.
Fitted to the side of the bogie, the side bearers work together during the rotation of the bogie to ensure a specified turning torque and safe operation of the rail vehicle.
Over the past six decades, Vesconite Bearings has become internationally recognised as a versatile, high-performance alternative for traditional bushing and bearing materials, as well as wear-resistant machined components for various industries.
Offering a unique combination of high-load bearing strength, low friction and low wear, the products supplied by Vesconite Bearings do not require manual lubrication, even in harsh and dirty working environments.
Potgieter concludes that the company’s rail products have the benefits of reduced downtime, reduced noise levels and squeal issues, as well as energy savings.