NSK helps European rail industry hit top speed at InnoTrans 2024

NSK will use the forthcoming InnoTrans 2024 international trade fair for transport technology (Berlin, 24-27 September) to showcase how its innovation in bearings can help the European rail industry keep pace with growing consumer demands. Among the technologies on display at Booth 270 in Hall 20 will be the company’s latest bearing solutions for high-speed passenger trains.

NSK tapered roller bearing unit for railway applications featuring a pressed steel cage

Only the highest quality engineered bearings are suitable for the axle-box assembly found on trains that travel at speeds of up to 320 km/h. NSK can already claim success in several notable European high-speed rail projects with the company’s RCT sealed-clean rotating-end-cap tapered roller bearings. RCT (Railway Cartridge Tapered) bearing units demonstrate key attributes that include reliability, long service life and safety. With innovative sealing solutions to ensure durability and optimal performance, these advanced bearing units accommodate high shock loads, axial loads, and static and dynamic radial loads.

Also on the booth of NSK Europe at InnoTrans 2024 will be solutions for freight and subway train axles, including spherical roller bearings and cylindrical roller bearings. Freight trains move somewhat slower, typically around 100 km/h, and have to endure much higher loads. The bearing technology is completely different to axle-box solutions for high-speed passenger trains, so design engineers in this segment benefit greatly from NSK’s expert technical support.

Another NSK bearing technology in the spotlight at InnoTrans 2024 will be the company’s solutions for traction motors, where requirements include power, sustainability and cost effectiveness. Traction motors in rail transport are subject to high radial and axial loads, and often have to endure strong electrical current and high speeds. To meet these requirements, NSK offers bearings with insulated coatings and high-strength cages.

Both NSK cylindrical roller and deep groove ball bearings find use in traction motors for rail vehicles since they are not only ideal for high speeds and loads, but also facilitate easy installation and disassembly. These bearing types offer two insulation choices on the outer ring: ceramic coating or PPS, a polyphenylene sulphide resin coating reinforced with glass fibre. Both coatings provide a high insulating resistance.

Also on show for traction motors will be bearings that uses ceramic for the rolling elements inside steel rings. These so-called hybrid bearings are popular where high-grade electrical isolation and/or ultra-high speeds are necessary.

For visitors seeking transmission bearings, NSK will highlight a number of innovative solutions at its booth. Gearbox bearings are subject to intense shocks and vibration arising from wheels clattering along the tracks. These severe operating conditions demand regular bearing maintenance, spurring demand for solutions that contribute to extended maintenance intervals and lower costs.

In light of such requirements, NSK will show a series of tapered roller bearings with a specially strengthened cage (wider section) for robust performance and longer service life in gearboxes. This solution is witnessing great success in Japan and is now available to manufacturers in Europe. Of particular note, NSK will display a transparent model of a transmission featuring both cylindrical and tapered roller bearings.

“Rail operators want low total cost of ownership [TCO] by asking bearing providers to extend the interval for routine maintenance and grease replenishment,” explains Olivier Billiard, Sector Manager Railways at NSK Europe. “Meeting this objective requires astute engineering design, the latest advanced materials and robust sealing technologies to ensure grease remains in optimal condition for longer. InnoTrans visitors should call by the NSK booth to discover more about our latest bearing technologies that support longer maintenance intervals.”

Complementing NSK’s product innovations, the company’s InnoTrans booth will also shine the spotlight on maintenance services. NSK is currently exploring options to support train operators via plans for a bearing overhaul and reconditioning. This business model is already operational in Asia.

NSK’s eye-catching 40 m² booth offers a great opportunity for train builders and operators, gearbox manufacturers, and wheelset manufacturers to engage with NSK experts and get familiar with the innovation and quality of the company’s state-of-the-art bearing solutions. A highly qualified, international team of NSK engineering experts will be available throughout the exhibition to discuss new projects and existing challenges.