In daily use, agricultural equipment is often exposed to unfavourable environmental conditions; uneven terrain, dirt, moisture and chemicals are an everyday occurrence. This combination places enormous demands on the components installed within the machine. With iglidur plain bearings from igus, the company Thaler saves costs and time in the construction of their farm loaders - starting from production.
For Thaler GmbH & Co KG, based in Polling in Upper Bavaria, self-employment began in 1997 with a smithery. When there was no suitable equipment on the market, Manfred Thaler, CEO and trained mechanical engineer, simply built his own farm loader. Demand grew rapidly and today the company produces up to 500 farm loaders per year, of which about 45 percent are exported abroad. From simple articulated loaders to telescopic loaders and lifting loaders, they provide the agricultural industry with useful equipment. The portfolio currently comprises around 25 vehicles, divided into four product lines. In addition to agriculture, the machines are also occasionally used in forestry and the construction industry. In daily use the farm loaders are often exposed to rough and fluctuating weather and environmental conditions.
Due to the harsh environmental parameters, the bearing points in agricultural vehicles are subject to high loads. Dust, dirt and heavy impact loads make the conditions more difficult for bearings. The equipment is in daily use and must guarantee perfect function.
The iglidur G plain bearings offer a maintenance-free and lubrication-free solution that is insensitive to dust and dirt. The plain bearings do not require additional lubrication or sealing, which makes cleaning the unit easier. Even high loads are no problem for the plastic bearings as they have vibration-dampening specifications. This has prolonged the service life of the bearings in the farm loaders.
Thaler's farm loaders are made for agriculture; they easily drive through uneven terrain and wet fields or push heavy snow masses in front of them. The changing environmental conditions and constant contact with water, dirt and a wide range of chemicals present a great challenge to the components installed within the machine. Experience with Thaler's agricultural machinery shows that metallic components at the bearing points would hardly withstand such conditions. Due to the constant contact with moisture, metallic plain bearings rust quickly, which would require regular maintenance of the bearing points and the replacement of defective metal bushings. This not only leads to frequent maintenance downtimes, but also requires regular availability of elaborately manufactured spare parts.
The assembly of the originally used metal bushings was very time consuming. In addition, the bearings in Thaler's farm loaders caused the shafts to shrink quickly. So the search for a more robust and durable alternative was imminent. What many agricultural machinery manufacturers do not know: "The problem of rusting shafts and plain bearings can be quickly solved by changing from metal to plastic. However, it is important that shaft and bearing are always considered as a unit." Thomas Weber, the Technical Sales Consultant in charge at igus, explains. Self-lubricating plain bearings made of iglidur are extremely robust and thus ideally suited for diverse and fluctuating environmental conditions, as frequently encountered in agriculture.
Manfred Thaler came into contact with the motion plastics solutions from igus several years ago during a visit to a trade show. After successfully using an igus e-chain in one of its innovative telescopic loader models more than four years ago, Thaler is now also replacing plastic instead of metal in terms of plain bearings. And with success - since about the beginning of 2017. The iglidur plain bearings are used in the bearing points of almost all models, with up to 18 plain bearings per farm loader. The requirements are high: in addition to unfavourable environmental conditions, the bearings must also withstand high edge loads. The iglidur plain bearings are particularly suitable here as they are not only very corrosion-resistant but also resistant to dirt and chemicals. Another advantage: Almost all metallic plain bearings can be easily replaced with igus plain bearings.
The correct interaction of shaft and bearing is important, so the two components should always be regarded as a single unit. The iglidur plain bearings prove to be an optimum mating surface since they adapt to the shaft much better than metal bushings. This minimises abrasion, which means that the shaft is subjected to less stress. The change from metal to iglidur plain bearings made itself positively felt at the Thaler company not only in direct use. "Previously, the bushings had to be rubbed down individually after painting," recalls CEO and proprietor Manfred Thaler. "Thanks to the use of iglidur plain bearings, this work step is now eliminated. " During the painting process the bearing point is simply covered with a stopper. Thus the plain bearing can be used directly after drying and removing the stopper. In this way the shafts no longer run the risk of wear and tear or shrinking.