Great River Energy station saves on journal bearing maintenance

The Timken Company

Steve Richter faced a challenge. As boiler core leader, responsible for the maintenance and reliability of the boiler area equipment at Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station in North Dakota, he needed to reduce costs related to replacing tapered journal bearings within the facility’s pulverizers.

In the past, he replaced worn bearings with new and refurbished bearings from a variety of suppliers. Richter needed a more comprehensive, economical approach to journal bearing maintenance. Timken market manager Todd Thorsen and representatives from Motion Industries’ Bismarck, N.D., branch joined forces to propose a three-year plan for replacing bearings at the Coal Creek Station. It combines three services, creating one resource for Coal Creek to obtain tapered roller bearings, bearing repair and competitive pricing on new products.

“We developed a bundled bearing replacement program where Motion Industries would deliver a steady supply of new and used bearings,” says Thorsen. “Our goal was to save Coal Creek Station money, maintain performance and avoid production delays.”

The replacement program feature that most impresses Richter is Timken’s documented repair criteria and associated costs for each repair level.

Coal Creek stores both new and repaired bearings on-site, but turns to Timken for inspections and repairs. The used bearings are checked to determine the necessary repairs needed to maintain reliable service. Under this program, bearings can be either repaired on-site or they can be sent out for repair at any Timken Industrial Services site, such as the South Bend, Ind., facility.

Repair costs fall under one of these three categories:

  • Type 1 – Polish cup, cone and rollers. Preserve, package and ship to customer.
  • Type 2 (minor) – Grind cup and polish cone, rollers and all other surfaces. Adjust stack height as required. Preserve, package and ship to customer.
  • Type 2 (major) – Grind cup and cone raceways. Replace rollers, cage pins and rings and polish all other surfaces. Adjust stack height as required. Preserve, package and ship to customer.

Once the repairs are complete, the refurbished bearings are returned to Coal Creek and used as necessary. When bearings can no longer be reconditioned, used bearings are replaced with new Timken tapered bearings. Although not usually required, Timken representatives are available to be on-site to help with maintenance when needed.

Also making Timken’s bearing repair capabilities attractive to customers is its willingness to repair bearings manufactured by the competition.

“I also was pleased to learn that Timken Industrial Services repairs any brand of bearing,” says Richter. “This allowed me to send all of the repair work to one location, making my job easier.”

Headquartered in Elk River, Minn., Great River Energy is the second-largest electric utility in the state based on generating capacity, and is the fifth-largest generation and transmission cooperative in the U.S. in terms of assets. Great River provides wholesale electric service to 28 cooperatives that distribute electricity to more than 600,000 homes, businesses and farms in Minnesota and neighboring states.

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