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Dodge bearings dramatically increase reliability at potato product plant

ConAgra Foods’ Lamb Weston plant in Connell, Washington, makes French fries and other potato products primarily for the commercial marketplace.

In 2010 the plant launched a major project to increase equipment uptime. A corporate team studied two years‘ worth of operating data to identify the equipment that caused most downtime. They looked at failures and determined whether the downtime was due to operational issues, or mechanical or electrical failure. It soon became clear that one of the least reliable pieces of equipment was the roll sizer.

The roll sizer sorts cleaned and peeled potatoes by size, dropping them into flumes which carry them to the knives to be cut into fries. Most of the failures were related to the machine’s bearings, of which there are 22 - one on each end of 11 tapered rollers. Sealing problems led to bearing failures, and these sometimes caused knock-on damage to other drive components. The team found that the bearings were always at different states of wear, causing uneven wear on sprockets, and failures with drives and chains.

The roll sizer is a tough application for bearings, with a lot of vibration in a wet environment. Applied Industrial Technologies, which supplies industrial products to Lamb Weston, identified poor sealing as the primary factor in the bearing failures. They recommended Dodge ULTRA KLEEN stainless steel ball bearings, which have a triple-lip sealing system plus a cage design that holds in the grease, preventing it from being washed out.

All the bearings on the roll sizer were replaced with the new ABB´s Dodge products. The results were dramatic – the machine went from the least reliable to the most reliable in the plant. It has since been completely removed from the plant’s tracking list, allowing maintenance staff to focus on other issues.

ConAgra Foods was so impressed with the success of the bearing replacement at Lamb Weston that it decided to standardize on Dodge mounted ball bearings at all of its facilities in North America.

 Dodge ULTRA KLEEN stainless steel ball bearing

  • stainless steel inserts
  • patented QuadGuardTM triple-lip sealing system
  • new MaxlifeTM cage design prevents grease washout
  • 100% filled with H1 food-grade grease

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