South African bearings distributor Reelin Bearings believes that a successful joint venture (JV) between itself and US-based railroad solutions provider Amsted Rail will serve as a departure point for future international JVs.
The JV resulted in the commissioning of a sophisticated computerised remanufacturing facility for railroad tapered roller (Tarol) bearings, in Durban, dubbed the BrencoReelin plant.
The plant, commissioned in 2008, was purpose-built to meet the specifications of a tender awarded by State-owned group Transnet to Reelin Bearings in 2007 to refurbish Tarol bearings.
Reelin Bearings formed a JV with Brenco, a subsidiary of Amsted Rail, as a direct result of this tender, to leverage Reelin Bearings’ local client relationship and Amsted Rail’s technological expertise.
“Both companies have learnt a significant amount during this process and Amsted Rail has indicated that it will model its future JVs on our partnership. “The combination of international expertise and local on-the-ground knowledge has proved highly successful in this venture,” says Reelin Bearings engineering manager Robin Sadler.
In addition, he says that future bearing remanufacturing facilities worldwide will be modelled on the Durban plant, and that this type of facility will become the industry standard owing to its intensively monitored nature.
The US-designed plant is fully computerised
“The reason that this plant is unique is that we are able to monitor the bearing from the time it enters the plant, track every component that is added or amended, and record every defect. “Each bearing is given a serial number so that it can also be monitored in the field and we can determine exactly what adjustments were made to it,” Reelin Bearings CEO Boyce Naidoo explains.
The bearings arrive at the plant as batch specific from various depots, and each batch is kept isolated throughout the remanufacturing process so that each depot has its original bearings returned.
Throughout the processing line, each component of each bearing is tracked using the facility’s computerised infrastructure. The data is captured accordingly and used to update the client on a monthly basis, which enables the client to access information about each bearing.
In addition, bearings that cannot be recov- ered and are scrapped are also monitored in this way.
“There is no other plant in the world that can monitor scrap output like this plant. If the component fails the inspection phase, it is placed in the scrap bins that are component specific; all components are not simply thrown together. “The bins are then weighed and collected by the client. Scrap is thus monitored according to bearing, component and origin depot,” explains Sadler.
BrencoReelin has the capacity to produce 486 bearings a day, with each bearing weighing between 48 kg and 52 kg.
Further, Naidoo says the long-term expan- sion plans of the company include the construction of an original bearings manufacturing facility in South Africa.