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Linear Motion Control - 06/12/2020

NSK stainless steel NH/NS linear guides with K1 lubrication units

When linear guides in the food and packaging industry fail to last for their expected service life, it can make sense to use solutions equipped with integrated lubrication units. 

These units release lubricant continuously over a long period of time. By switching to this type of linear system in its dough slicing machines, a large bakery is saving more than €200,000 a year in maintenance and downtime costs.

The linear guides serving the process-integrated band cutters in the bakery’s dough slicing systems were failing every three weeks on average. Despite being coated with an Armoloy finish – and using food-grade grease – the desired performance criteria could not be met.

To overcome its issues, the bakery sought a linear guide that would not only offer long service life, but be capable of higher speeds as the company planned to boost the productivity of its dough slicers from 250 to more than 300 cycles per minute.

Within the framework of NSK’s AIP (Added Value Programme), company experts performed an on-site assessment of the application’s environmental conditions, as well as linear guides that had failed. Once complete, the team recommended the use of NH/NS series stainless steel linear guides in combination with a K1 food-grade lubrication unit. After an initial trial had been completed successfully, it prompted the bakery to fit all of its dough slicing machines with this proven solution.

The NH/NS series is designed to perform precise linear motion (even at high speeds), with stainless steel versions particularly suited to food and beverage manufacturing environments. Long service life is not compromised even when subjected to frequent and deep cleaning cycles.

NSK’s K1 lubrication units provide a clean and FDA-approved solution in the truest sense of the word because the lubricant is incorporated in a carrier medium and released little by little to ensure supply over a long time period. Meticulous sealing prevents contaminants from reaching the running surface, and far less lubricant is released into the surroundings than with conventional solutions.

Feedback from the bakery speaks for itself. Since changing to the NH/NS series, the company performs maintenance routines after 32 weeks at the earliest, which compares extremely favourably with replacing the linear guides every three weeks. This outcome represents a more than tenfold increase in service life. Annual savings of €206,000 have been achieved thanks to the need for far fewer replacements, along with reduced maintenance and machine downtime.

To further extend the potential benefits, NSK has recently introduced the K1-L lubrication unit. The K1-L houses a new polyolefin-based carrier material with a much larger reserve of lubricant, leading to a service life which is typically double that of the K1 series. Fully compatible with NH/NS series linear guides, the K1-L acts as a direct replacement for existing K1 units.


Picture 1): A bakery was able to increase the service life of linear guides in its dough slicers by more than tenfold thanks to stainless steel NH/NS linear guides with K1 lubrication units

NSK K1-L lubrication

Picture 2): The new NSK K1-L lubrication unit offers twice the service life of the K1 series

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