Bearings are used in a wide range of different operational spheres to facilitate rotation of moving parts. And in most cases a bearing will outlast the machine or device to which it is fitted. But when bearings are used in offshore drilling operations that must be able to withstand some of the most rigorous conditions known to man they need to be of a certain calibre.
Because of the severe conditions which bearings have to adhere to, rig operators must choose bearings which can maximise usage and stop untoward downtime.
The types of bearing which are used offshore have to operate in nigh-on impossible conditions, so have to cope with exceptional stresses. This means that the bearings used need to be not only strong enough but also reliable enough to cope.
Bearing design and choice in this environment cannot simply be a flick through a manufacturer’s stock book. A rig operator has to take into consideration whether a supplier can offer a bespoke solution to meet demand or if the bearing supplier can offer expert advice from concept start through the lifecycle of the bearing.
One bearing manufacturer, Schaeffler, offer a bearing calculation software package so that bearing designs can be analysed in greater detail. And using these programs it’s much easier to calculate and display how each load acting on the bearing will affect the bearing’s physical characteristics.