By Tanna M. Friday, sponsored content
SKF creates a world of reliable rotation!
People say money makes the world go round, but really it bearings that make the world go round. Bearings are a seldom seen, but highly crucial component in every piece of rotating machinery. From office chairs to airplanes to the High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas, anything that rotates needs bearings to operate smoothly and efficiently.
The SKF Solution Factory, part of SKF USA, Inc., located at 2575 US-78 in Moody, provides a world of knowledge to help take machine performance to the next level. The 30,000 square-foot facility operates with 26 employees working on custom solutions to particularly challenging industrial applications. Solutions include bearing remanufacturing, modification, customization, and testing. SKF understands that bearings keep the world turning, and as technology and engineering evolves, SKF bearings will evolve, too.
Larry Horton, Strategic Sales Director for SKF Solution Factory, explains that SKF came to Alabama to support its large industrial customers. “There are a lot of paper, aluminum and steel mills between Texas and North Carolina. That’s why we are here,” said Horton. “In addition to being in the heart of the industrial markets, our largest industrial distribution customer, Motion Industries, is located in Birmingham.”
Larry explains that SKF, who opened the Solution Factory in Moody in 2014, takes customer challenges very seriously.
“Here at the Solution Factory, we can provide more cost-efficient options for our customers. For example, we can remanufacture their bearings, which is significantly less costly for customers than buying a new bearing,” said Horton. “As part of the remanufacturing process the bearing is taken out of service, disassembled, cleaned and inspected to determine if it is a candidate for remanufacture. If approved, we basically remanufacture, reassemble, slush (which is a preservative), repackage, and ship it back to the customer for return to service.” Bearing customization, he explains, is where a new bearing is modified for a specific application.
According to Horton and the company website, SKF is a world leader in rolling bearings and related technologies including sealing solutions, lubrication systems and services. In addition, SKF provides machine health assessment, engineering and remanufacturing services as seen in the Moody facility. But as Horton points out, SKF offers an arena for innovation – “an opportunity for our customers to use the tools we provide to explore, improve or rethink the performance of their rotating equipment. A place where even the smallest adjustment can make a big difference.”
As Horton points out, “SKF offers an arena for innovation where our customers can take advantage of our capabilities to explore, improve or rethink the performance of their rotating equipment. A place where even the smallest adjustment can make a big difference.”
One of SKF’s most innovative projects, for NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover, used highly engineered SKF components to ensure that the rover’s main robotic arm, sample collecting turret, tool bit carousel and sample handling assembly survive a months-long trip through space and function on the Mars surface. Another, Horton adds, is the High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas, which rotates smoothly thanks to the largest spherical roller bearings SKF has ever produced.
“We built and installed the bearings for the 550-feet-tall observation wheel in Las Vegas, which is located at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, and the focal point of the $550 million open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district,” said Horton.
Horton, a native to Leeds and a UAB graduate, explains that SKF that began in 1907 when the double-row self, aligning ball bearing was invented by Sven Winquist, one of SKF’s founding members and the first managing director. The first factory was built the same year in Säve Strandgata, Gothenburg, Sweden. Two years later a subsidiary formed in New York called SKF Ball Bearing Company, which brought the company to the US and established it as a world leader for its purpose-built designs. Now in 120 countries throughout the world, SKF continues to serve the aerospace, agriculture, automotive, construction, food and beverage, general machinery, machine tools, marine, material handling, metals, mining, ocean energy, oil and gas, pulp and paper, railways, trucking, ATVs, and wind energy industries.
“We are proud to serve not only our customers but our community; enabling continual innovation and sustainability improvements,” said Horton. “One innovative new capability we offer is postal paddle assembly, which is totally unrelated to our traditional business. The postal paddle creates tension and moves out as letters are sorted. We assemble the paddles here in Moody, box, and ship to Topeka, Kansas to the USPS Material Distribution Center, where they distribute to the post offices around the country.”
“SKF has over 100 years of experience in bearings, seals, lubrication and rotating equipment,” said Horton. “We do much more than sell components, we partner with our customers to design and manufacture solutions to help solve their operational problems.”
To learn more about SKF, the industries it serves, and their locations throughout the world, please visit skf.com.