Questioning status quo leads to new approach |

Questioning status quo leads to new approach

Pat Patera

For 100 years, ball bearings were manufactured according to the accepted technical premise. But Bently questioned the status quo and rolled out a new approach, which incorporates pressure principals.

The result? This is not your off-the-shelf $20 ball bearing.

Each year, the engineers at Bently Pressurized Bearing Company roll out all of three or four bearings, customized for each specific application. Customers pay $20,000 to $100,000 each for the solution to an unusual or problematic application, says Rich Scheuer, sales and marketing manager.

The bearings may be pricey, but the machines they keep operational cost $1 million and up. Typical customers come from the petrochemical and pipeline industries. And from the hydro industry, which needs to run cleaner now that environmental regulations address issues of oil leaking into water.

Externally pressurized bearings are the most significant revolution in bearing technology in the last 100 years, says the company. Its design uses fully lubricated, pressurized fluid technology to overcome the problems inherent in conventional bearings, particularly instability problems. This bearing revolutionizes the way machinery can be built, operated, and maintained, says the company. Jeffrey Jarboe is president of the division, started in 2002.