Maintenance-free bearings: How they can reduce warranty claim costs
Product consistency is critical for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Their name and profitability tie directly to the performance and reliability of their products. This includes the components they’ve chosen to build with. Can maintenance-free bearings improve the status quo?
When a component like a bearing fails prematurely, remedying the issue often involves filing a warranty claim by the customer to the OEM. These warranty claims are costly on several fronts. The time the OEM expends to process and evaluate the claim and send the replacement part results in a loss of efficiency – and ultimately, money.
The financial expense of a warranty claim is typically between one to five percent of sales. The costs can often be more insidious than that; a loss of efficiency and productivity on the customer’s part can bring a company close to damaging their brand reputation, as well.
Why do bearings fail? Improper lubrication
Bearing selection and proper lubrication can have a huge impact on warranty costs and the time spent by the OEM on filing warranty claims. Proper lubrication is critical to bearing performance. Lubrication maintenance is notoriously difficult to get right because it leaves room for error on the part of the end-user.
Certainly, there are many variables for a customer to take into account for proper lubrication. Grease compatibility, greasing quantity (which is dependent on bearing size), frequency (which is dependent on the manufacturer’s recommendation), proper cleanliness, and proper storage are just a few.
The promise of maintenance-free bearings
Proper lubrication often comes down to a need for expertise. Because of the complexity involved in lubrication–along with the fact that not every customer can be an instant expert–improper lubrication is the number one cause of premature bearing failure.
Certainly, determining the root cause of bearing failure is difficult and can easily become contentious for all parties involved; for many OEMs, this becomes a very complicated position to be in. And because the failures are usually the result of end-user maintenance practices, supplier recovery–the amount of money able to be recovered from a supplier in the case of a warranty issue–is often very low.
The solution: eliminate warranty claims with solid lubrication
The good news: adopting maintenance-free bearings during design can virtually eliminate lubrication-related failures and warranty claims.
Solid lubrication removes the need for lubrication-related maintenance. This greatly reduces the likelihood of premature bearing failure due to improper lubrication. The job of maintenance is easier for customers–which is a major product upgrade for an OEM to offer.
In short, solid lubrication removes the long list of variables involved in bearing lubrication and maintenance for the customer. Put time and energy back where it belongs: on more productive endeavors and increased efficiency.