The agricultural industry is pivotal to combatting food shortages and hunger around the world. Farmers are subsequently under increasing pressure to increase yields year on year while ensuring business profitability by keeping input and operational costs to a minimum. Exponential rises in costs, especially where diesel prices are concerned, present tremendous challenges, driving farmers to harness more from their machines and equipment.

Combine harvesters, tractors, balers, disc harrows, planters, etc., are subjected to punishing conditions where the ingress of contaminants such as dirt, dust, mud, water and crop residue cause component wear and damage. This can result in premature equipment failure. With limited window periods for every crop cycle, equipment breakdowns and subsequent unproductive downtime, repair costs and even with potential negative effects on yields carve into profits.

Thanks to advancements in technology, which have transformed the agricultural sector, farm equipment is delivering increased performance, reliability and lifecycle, while being more efficient and producing fewer emissions.  Farmers are placing their trust in OEMs like SKF to provide components and equipment that deliver on all fronts. SKF plough the latest innovations and technologies into the design and engineering of its integrated and comprehensive range of agri-specific solutions. Products include radial and axial bearings, hub bearing units, bushings, seals, lubrication systems as well as power transmission solutions – chains and belts. These products undergo rigorous testing to ensure optimum performance and reliability in every stage of the crop cycle – from tillage, seeding, fertilizing, and irrigation to harvesting, mowing and baling.

“Our bearings and seals are developed to provide reliable rotation by withstanding contaminant ingress, temperature extremes and corrosive chemicals that are present in the gruelling agricultural environment. The results are high machine and equipment availability, minimum maintenance and low operating costs for farmers,” states Charl Engelbrecht, SKF Key Accounts Manager – Agriculture.

SKF bearings are suitable for tractors and combine harvester applications as well as for various agricultural attachments including opener and closing discs, gauge, press and implement wheels, seed-meter drive shafts and row markers.

The SKF Explorer range, recommended for tractors, offer optimised internal geometry for reduced friction, wear and heat generation. These tapered roller bearings accommodate higher load levels (up to 23% increased dynamic load ratings). SKF’s range of radial ball and roller bearings as well as agricultural insert bearing units incorporate a relubrication-free design and a high performance sealing solution and are ideal for combine harvester applications, such as baling and mowing.

Engelbrecht stresses that, with 56% of bearing failures caused by inadequate lubrication and subsequent contamination, a proactive lubrication programme is essential. “Add to this the fact that lubricants amount to only 2 to 3% of running costs in agricultural machines, but poor lubrication accounts for 40 to 60% of maintenance costs.”  A well-executed maintenance strategy that involves the systematic application and control of lubricants will reduce friction, heat and wear between moving parts, preventing breakdowns, maximising performance, reliability and efficiencies, extending equipment lifecycle, lowering maintenance costs, enhancing safety and meeting environmental compliance.

SKF’s holistic lubrication solutions for tractors, implements, trailers, combine harvesters, special harvesting machines, balers, sprayers, slurry tankers, etc. include manual, semi- and fully automated lubrication delivery systems, compact electric cartridge pumps, grease nipples, grease guns, lubricant hoses, and progressive metering devices as well as a selection of high quality lubricants. “The correct choice of lubricant carries as much importance as applying the correct lubrication methods,” notes Engelbrecht. “With years of experience with bearings, lubricants and applications as well as through continuous research, field-testing and validation, we have developed the right lubricants specifically suited for agri equipment.”

Moving on to SKF’s Power Transmission solutions, Engelbrecht says that agricultural roller chains as well as special combine, baler and drive chains are used extensively on a range of machines and equipment. “We develop and design our agricultural chains in close collaboration with equipment manufacturers, distributors and end-users, ensuring that our solutions meet stringent demands and address farmer’s real-life needs. A customer-focussed approach means that SKF agricultural chain works when and how it is supposed to and is interchangeable with industry standard OEM chains.” Engelbrecht recommends the use of SKF’s quality lubrication solutions for optimum chain performance.

SKF, in collaboration with its brands PEER, Chicago Rawhide and Lincoln, provides robust, world-class quality agri product solutions that add end-to-end value to equipment throughout the crop cycle, enabling farmers to sustainably achieve profitable yields and successful business outcomes. Moreover, our products are specially designed to have a positive impact on the environment,” concludes Engelbrecht.

SKF will showcase its comprehensive range of premium brand agri-specific products at Nampo 2024 (Nampo hall: stand #121), which is one of the largest agricultural exhibitions under private ownership in the southern hemisphere.  held annually in Free State town of Bothaville.

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