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Unique 2D laser code provides traceability for NSK Super Precision bearing

Unique 2D laser code provides traceability for NSK Super Precision bearing
As one of the World's most recognised bearing brands, NSK is continually investing in manufacturing technology to improve bearing quality and performance. In order to add convenience to customers and protect that investment, NSK is using technology that allows customers to identify and reference the manufacturing characteristics of individual bearings.

Designed to provide a quality guarantee, full traceability and act as an anti-counterfeit measure, NSK's state-of-the-art production facility in Newark, UK is laser marking its Super Precision bearings with a unique 2D matrix which allows every individual bearing to carry details about its manufacture.

In today's manufacturing environment technology is helping many industries to improve quality and reliability while also reducing overall costs. One such example is the implementation of component tracking and traceability systems; what was once the preserve of the medical and aerospace sectors is now part of a growing trend employed in a much wider range of manufacturing and process industries from machine tool manufacture to food production.

The introduction of two dimensional matrix codes has allowed a much greater amount of individual information to be referenced compared to a generic product type serial number or batch number. Now it is possible to include a unique reference for manufacturing dates, axial and radial run-out figures as well as preload information and machining data. All of this information can be linked to a unique laser etched pattern on every single Super Precision bearing, which enables both NSK and its customers to have easy access to this crucial information.

At NSK, this coding forms part of the manufacturing process and is used to populate the product reference database as well as produce the product labels which are fixed to the outer packaging. By incorporating the data for every bearing produced into the production data system, it also provides a vital quality control tool as well as complete traceability, which is required by many industries such as aerospace, medical and automotive.

The majority of NSK Super Precision bearings are used on machine tool spindles. In this application the unique information carried by each bearing also enables identification of any product that is being replaced, so that wear and life-time information can be linked back to the production process in great detail. In the past, this could only be narrowed down to a single batch or day of production, which could mean much larger numbers of the product being included in any analysis.

This NSK system automatically measures the critical dimensions of bearings ensuring 100 percent checking and zero defects. These values are stored in a product database that is uniquely linked to each bearing via the 2D matrix. By providing real-time reports on materials, components, machines and shift operators, the system can be used to identify contributions to individual parts, and after testing allow final products to be despatched with confidence. In this way the high product quality expected by the customer is maintained (NSK maintains a zero parts per million (PPM) failure record) and the costs associated with premature replacements can be avoided.

While investment continues year-on-year in research and development, NSK has also invested in streamlining the warehouse and dispatch areas allowing more efficient service to customers. NSK has a stock holding of several million pounds in the warehouse in Newark UK, guaranteeing not only superior quality, but also the best possible delivery times for the vast majority of the product range.

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