NTN news

NTN's Engineering Services work in partnership with aftermarket customers to achieve bottom-line results


2 December 2020 - Toronto - Corporate - News

NTN Engineering Team with text "NTN's engineering triples uptime of paper machine couch roll"

“Our people make the difference and go the extra mile every day,” says Marcus Wickert, Director of Engineering at NTN Canada. “Our Service and Engineering team are committed to solving problems and ensuring our customers succeed…that is what really differentiates us from the competition.”

Engineering service is a point of pride for our NTN organization and also a valuable brand differentiator. We decided over 30 years ago that we didn’t want our brand to be just about bearings. We wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best bearing experience. Becoming a solutions provider involves the right combination of product, service and high degree of value addition, all backed by an underlying vision to deliver the Ultimate Bearing Experience.

Our work with this major Canadian producer of containerboard is an inspirational story. The plant was experiencing catastrophic failures of the spherical roller bearings on the large suction couch roll in the wet end of their paper machine. Failures were occurring every two months resulting in the mill shutting down its sole paper machine for over six hours each time it needed repair.

With this new bearing opportunity, we wanted to keep intact the culture of customer service that our technical support team had created with our long-established history in the pulp and paper industry. In this application, engineering service proved to be a powerful brand differentiator.

Bearing Failure Investigation

When bearings fail repeatedly well before their design life, the common approach is to simply change bearing brands. NTN mitigated the fear of buying the wrong bearing by providing extensive engineering analysis on the bearing application. Our engineering and service teams went beyond just explaining our NTN ULTAGE® product features. At each plant visit, information was collected on the application and the associated monetary costs the failures were generating for the mill. The removed bearings were carefully analyzed to define the root cause of the catastrophic failure. Following this comprehensive evaluation, our engineering team outlined the necessary corrective actions for the entire bearing system, confirmed the suitability of our NTN ULTAGE® spherical roller bearing while outlining the cost savings that would be achieved.

The Solution:

Differentiating NTN’s engineering support with service that goes above and beyond was critical in helping this customer select our solution over the alternatives.

As part of this process, NTN’s applications engineering team conducted three consecutive detailed bearing failure analyses of the couch roll and discovered multiple reasons for the failures. First, loose housing fits allowed the bearing’s rotating outer rings to move relative to the housings during operation. This resulted in heavy outside diameter wear, fretting corrosion and cracking. Additionally, evidence of thrust load was observed and could be linked to a tight inner ring fit that did not allow for proper shaft expansion. Finally, moisture from the wet operating environment was getting into the bearings past the brass spacer rings, significantly degrading the lubricant and bearing performance.

NTN’s team recommended the correct press fit for the bearing’s rotating outer ring and loose inner ring fit for the stationary shaft. A new design for the brass spacer rings was also recommended to remove a second unused keyway slot that was an open channel for water to get into the bearing. Lastly, a higher viscosity lubricant with water inhibiting characteristics was implemented to better withstand the wet end paper machine conditions.



A Successful Outcome

The NTN solution lasted three times longer, operating for six months between roll rebuilds. The mill has been completely satisfied and specifies NTN ULTAGE® spherical roller bearings for this demanding application. ULTAGE® spherical roller bearings were introduced to support higher loads and the growing demand by various industries for faster rotational speeds. Besides allowing machines to run at maximum productivity, the innovative ULTAGE® design was able to reduce heat generation for extended grease life and improved uptime, compared to conventional bearing designs.

An increase in bearing life was confirmed as the mill went from replacing 12 bearings per year to 2 bearings per year, generating a total annual cost savings of $165,480.

Intimate discussions and numerous fact seeking missions at the plant were led by Mike Shadid, NTN Applications Engineer. “Our efforts in understanding our customers business, their operating conditions and challenges allowed us to make suggestions that were important to their bottom line,” says Mike Shadid.

Initially, the engineering team found that the renewed roll had wrong fits that were reversed from what was required. During the process NTN also provided the customer with a lubrication review due to water ingress which further improved bearing reliability.

"Through the documented cost savings evaluation and reporting process, we were able to engage them to discover what’s important, identify the risk, establish goals, and set expectations," says Mike Shadid. "This in turn helped our customer learn how to align the divergent interests in the buying group and build the business case to get management approval."

Today NTN has grown its business with this buying group and this can be attributed to the expertise of our dedicated engineering and technical service group. With over 190 years of combined bearing experience and excellence in the Canadian marketplace, our engineering representatives are professionals dedicated to providing expert failure analysis and recommendations to optimize bearing life and reduce downtime. This case study is just one of many that showcase how NTN's engineering services can work in partnership with aftermarket customers to achieve bottom-line results.


We recognize the success of our customers has a profound and direct impact on our own business. Our success depends on our ability to earn their trust and confidence as a solutions provider. How we engage the customer in helping them solve their problems, in helping them achieve their goals, in helping them make a buying decision becomes the ultimate differentiator.


Value added breakdown

Increased Productivity $150,000*
Increased Bearing Life $15,480*
Documented Cost Savings $165,480*

Annualized Cost Savings $165,480*

*All monetary amounts listed in Canadian dollars

Ultage paper machine bearing

About NTN

Founded in 1918, NTN is one of the world's largest producers of premium quality ball and roller bearings, long recognized for the most stringent quality standards in the industry. With plants around the globe and a strong domestic manufacturing network, over 80% of the products sold by NTN in North America are made by one of the ten plants the company operates in Canada and the USA. NTN is also a leading provider of bearing services which include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. NTN's company vision is "to transform into Canada’s leader of the Ultimate Bearing Experience."

NTN Contact

Rita Payne, NTN Marketing: