How Bearings Work

Bearings are key to any application that requires any degree of motion between rotating parts due to their capabilities to reduce friction. They find themselves to be integral to a wide range of industries, including manufacturing or construction projects that involve heavy-duty equipment. Given this, understanding how they work and the important role they can play in your operations goes a long way in learning how to properly use and maintain them. This article will discuss how bearings work for heavy-duty machines, the different types of bearings, and why they are important.

How Bearings Work

Conceptually, bearings are incredibly simple and work off the premise that it is easier to create movement by rolling rather than sliding as rolling greatly reduces friction. How this is applied for heavy machinery and other applications can become more complex. This is because bearings can be subject to either radial loading, where force is applied perpendicular to the direction of the shaft, or thrust loading, where force is applied in the same direction as the shaft. Depending on how they are being used, a bearing may be expected to withstand either one or a combination of these forces.

Types of Bearings

There is a wide range of bearings that are designed for different purposes and to withstand different types of loading. The most common of these is ball bearings, which transfers the load from the outer to the inner race using spherical balls, which allows them to spin incredibly smoothly and handle both radial and thrust loads. They are usually found in low load applications as too much pressure can cause the balls to lose their shape which damages the bearing.

When it comes to heavy-duty applications that experience more load, you are more likely to find spherical bearings, which are common in vehicle suspensions, engines, and other heavy machinery. Other types of bearings such as roller bearings are also capable of handling heavy radial loads and are widely used for conveyor belts. Tapered bearings are designed to cope with both radial and thrust loads, making them excellent in heavy-duty applications with moderate speed that requires durability.

No matter the task or industry, bearings provide invaluable support to those machines involving moving parts.

Why Bearings Are Important

The core benefit of bearings is their ability to reduce friction. This is important for all applications involving heavy rotations of moving parts as the lower friction can help to reduce energy consumption and improve the efficiency of the machine. This also serves to minimise damage to the part of the equipment that supports the rotation caused by the load force and helps keep the rotating shaft in the correct position.

Needless to say, bearings are instrumental in allowing equipment to operate more efficiently and accurately over time without experiencing as much wear or damage. As such, it is important to regularly check and maintain them. If you find your heavy-duty machinery is not working to its full capabilities, this may be attributed to damaged bearings that need replacing. As one of the UK’s largest parts supplies for heavy-duty equipment, Jaytrac can supply high-quality bearings for Caterpillar and Komatsu machines. For more information about our range of bearings, contact us today on 01604 491 133 or email us at

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