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Hartford Technologies Blog

How Ball Bearings Revolutionized the Beer Industry

Posted: Jan 27, 2017 1:09:56 PM

Food and Beverage industry regulations are increasingly placing greater demands for production of safe drinks. To meet these demands, plus the requirements of safety management systems such as Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP), the beer industry has been adopting new bearing technologies. This includes the adoption of NSF approved bearings.

When machine components come in contact with beer during the manufacturing process, there is risk that any lubricant leakage can contaminate the product. To avoid this, industry regulations require the use of lubricants approved as acceptable with incidental food contact for use in beer brewing.

In addition, to prevent bacterial growth, beer brewing machinery is often subjected to the application of caustic anti-bacterial cleansing agents followed by high pressure wash-downs. But the same wash-downs can wash out grease and dramatically increase the risk of corrosion on standard steel bearings, leading to costly unplanned stops. In beer manufacturing, superior corrosion resistance is required to provide a reliable service life of bearings.

Thankfully, modern ball bearings exist made from materials offering high corrosion resistance, superior performance, advanced lubricants, and sealing solutions in compliance with industry needs.

These high performance bearings have impacted the beer industry in three main ways:

1) Increased safety

The ball bearings currently entering the market are made from high quality stainless steel,  prefabricated with high quality grease registered by NSF as category H1. They are also designed for optimal detectability, thus promising greater safety in the production environment.

2) Breakthroughs In Bearing Life

Modern ball bearings are also designed for longer fatigue life and significantly improved reliability. In particular, the innovative ball bearings being developed currently are ideal for application in extreme conditions such as wet and abrasive environments as well as freezing and corrosive situations typical in beer manufacturing.

Moreover, the stainless steel used in ball bearings offers greater material “cleanliness” with almost non-presence of sulfides, silicates, aluminates, or globular oxides. The absence of these metallic oxides can help extend bearing life.

3) Innovative lubrication solutions keeps maintenance costs down and reduce contamination risks

The lubricant used in ball bearings is an oil-saturated polymer matrix that virtually fills the internal space in the bearing. This polymer matrix has a porous structure comprising millions of micro pores, so small that they hold the oil through surface tension. As the lubricant is pressed into the bearing and then curved around, narrow gaps form around the rolling elements and raceways, allowing the bearing components to rotate freely.

Additionally, modern ball bearings are never re-lubricated because they are supplied lubricated for life. Once the matrix is added to the bearing and cured, it also cannot be washed out. And lastly, this oil is resistant to virtually all chemicals used in wash-downs. This guarantees protection against contaminants making the oil very safe for use in beer brewing.


Ball bearings have impacted the beer industry in many other ways. If you can find the right bearings for your applications, you will significantly save on costs while increasing productivity.    

Topics: Custom Bearings