A UK-based manufacturer of hygienic wipes (wet wipes) is enjoying the benefits of replacing standard linear guides with those manufactured by NSK. After experiencing persistent and expensive breakdown situations, the company opted to upgrade by fitting NSK linear guides, which thanks to their stainless steel sliders and specially coated rails, have delivered a nearly nine-fold increase in working life. Installed within the framework of an NSK Added Value Programme AIP, the move has resulted in improved machine performance, as well as reduced maintenance and downtime costs.
The company makes wet wipes for domestic and cosmetic use. However, the plant was having an issue with its converting, cutting and stacking line, which sections and compresses the wet wipes ready for packaging. Here, frequent failures were occurring of the linear guide found on the ‘stacker feet’ section.
The ‘stacker feet’ section uses a linear guide with the slider held stationary, while the rail with a foot mounting is driven up and down in quick succession to compress the wet wipes. It could be observed that the material used to manufacture both the rail and slider elements of the linear guide was high-carbon bearing steel, with standard seals attached to the slider.
Unfortunately, the impact of linear guide failure was proving costly for the plant, with increased maintenance and unplanned downtime. Each failure, which on average occurred every two weeks (26 times a year), would result in downtime costs of around €410 per hour. For every failure event, an engineer would require 30 minutes to replace the guide.
Understandably, the company wanted to find a solution to improve machine performance and extend linear guide life. NSK’s engineering team was duly invited to visit the site and review the application. This process revealed that the existing linear guides were frequently failing due to corrosion and the ingress of chemical fluid, causing seizure from grease washout.
Following the review, the engineers recommended replacing the standard linear guides with NSK linear guides featuring stainless steel sliders and specially coated rails. Since implementation, breakdown events have been reduced significantly. Whereas the plant was previously experiencing 26 breakdowns a year, the company has witnessed just three in 12 months using the NSK linear guides – an impressive 88% decrease. In turn, the company has achieved significant savings in linear guide, downtime and repair costs.