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South Africa: SKF, in collaboration with Western Cape Authorised Distributor, secures the catch of the day

A six-monthly Vibration Analysis (VA) solution from SKF, in collaboration with Authorised Distributor, West Cape Bearing & Transmission, has improved the reliability of a longstanding Western Cape customer’s fishing vessel fleet, helping to improve uptime and productivity.

SKF, together with West Cape Bearing & Transmission, has been supplying the customer, who is a blue chip company in the local fisheries sector, with bearings, drive products and Condition Monitoring (CoMo) since 2015. “Over the years, we have also been conducting VA services on various vessels in the customer’s fleet on an ad hoc basis,” says Jonathan van Rooyen, Senior RDC Analyst at SKF.

“The success of our VA services in improving engine reliability, which has increased vessel uptime and subsequently production, has led us to now conduct the VA on a six-monthly basis on each of the customer’s nine vessels,” continues Van Rooyen. “This allows for the collection of vibration data on a regular basis as well as for the implementation of any required maintenance when the vessels are in the harbour. The resultant increased frequency of data collection and subsequent early detection of potential issues greatly reduces the risk of bearing failure. It also enables the customer to plan and budget for equipment maintenance, repair or replacement and, importantly, to avoid potential breakdowns at sea.”    

The VA scope of work includes the main drive gearbox and alternators, secondary alternators and specific pump sets. Van Rooyen adds that they also conduct vibration analysis on the winder gearbox on occasion.

The responsibility of data collection falls to the West Cape Bearing & Transmission team. “As we can only collect the data when the vessel comes into harbour for service, we have a very short window and turnaround period within to work,” explains Philip Fouché, owner of West Cape Bearing & Transmission. “Moreover, the vessels usually have to be back out at sea within two to three days so time is always of the essence.” Once the data has been collected, it is downloaded to the SKF Remote Diagnostic Centre (RDC) for analysis and reporting. “In addition to laser alignment services, we also provide the fishing vessel customer with products for service if necessary,” adds Fouché.

The value of SKF’s VA solution was again recently highlighted when one of the fishing vessels was experiencing bearing faults on the main engine gearbox and jack shaft. The ocean is a dangerous, harsh and unpredictable environment and the Atlantic is notorious for its rough waters. So reliability is critical for the customer as breakdowns at sea put both the crew and the vessel at risk. “Following an inspection of the equipment, we concluded that vibration issues were the main cause of the bearing failures,” notes Van Rooyen. “The full VA solution by SKF and West Cape Bearing & Transmission resulted in an improvement in the vibration amplitude thus preventing any failure from taking place,” he concludes.

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