Bearing market rolls forward

Nov. 1, 2009
Domestic demand for ball, roller, and plain bearings is projected to expand 3% per year through 2013 to $10.6 billion, according to a new Bearings report

Domestic demand for ball, roller, and plain bearings is projected to expand 3% per year through 2013 to $10.6 billion, according to a new Bearings report from The Freedonia Group Inc., Cleveland. According to the study, sales increases for ball and roller bearings, including both mounted and unmounted types and associated parts, will outpace those of plain bearings, reaching $8.5 billion in 2013.

Sales of high value, large diameter bearings are expected to increase as wind energy and heavy equipment markets expand. Continued growth in the production of aerospace equipment and machinery will also support gains, though growth will be moderate. A recovery in motor vehicle production from the low levels of 2008, particularly in heavy truck and bus manufacturing, is also predicted to benefit bearing suppliers. Market gains will be dampened, however, as U.S. companies in a variety of bearing-consuming industries continue to move manufacturing operations offshore to save on labor costs, according to the study.

Besides roller-bearing sales, demand for mounted bearings and bearing parts is also expected to increase. Mounted bearing demand will get a boost from OEM simplification of production processes and maintenance requirements. OEM bearing applications, which account for 78% of all demand, are forecast to approximate the performance of MRO applications through 2013. Sales conditions will be particularly strong in the automotive and engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment manufacturing markets, according to the report. MRO bearing demand is expected to grow due to increasing maintenance expenditures for aerospace equipment and construction machinery. Bearings, published in September 2009, 267 pages, is available for $4,800.

For more information, visit

Wireless standard approved for industrial use

The ISA Standards & Practices Board (S&P) recently voted to approve the ISA-100.11a wireless standard “Wireless Systems for Industrial Automation: Process Control and Related Applications,” thereby making it an official ISA Standard. Final approval came from the ISA100 committee in July, as well as the ISA S&P Board. The standard will now be submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for approval as an ANSI standard, and also to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for consideration as an IEC standard.

“The ISA-100.11a standard was developed by a committee consisting of over 600 end users and equipment manufacturers from around the world, and represents a truly consensus standard created in an open, unbiased forum by a global team of industry experts,” says Wayne Manges, ISA100 co-chair from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The ISA100 committee addresses manufacturing and control issues, including the application of wireless technology, environments in which wireless technology is deployed, and wireless-equipment life cycles. The new standard provides reliable and secure wireless operation for noncritical monitoring, alerting, supervisory control, open-loop control, and closed-loop applications. The standard defines the protocol suite, system management, gateway, and security specifications for low-data-rate wireless connectivity with fixed, portable, and moving devices and low power consumption. It is sufficient for applications such as monitoring and process control where latencies on the order of 100 msec can be tolerated, with optional behavior for shorter latency.

The standard also addresses coexistence with other wireless devices in the industrial workspace, such as cell phones and devices based on IEEE 802.11x, IEEE 802.15x, IEEE 802.16x, and other relevant standards. For more information, visit

Mint motion language turns 21

The Mint motion control language from Baldor Electric Co., Fort Smith, Ark., recently celebrated its 21st birthday. Created by the UK start-up Optimised Control, now part of Baldor, to provide open programming for motion control hardware, the Mint language has proved to be an enduring factor in the company's success in this segment of the automation market, according to company sources. When it was launched in 1988, Mint's English-like commands — which inventor Mark Crocker borrowed from his student experience of BASIC on home computers — were a revelation for a motion control community used to programming with mnemonic codes.

With high-level commands such as PRINT and SPEED, and other features like user-defined variable names, motion control programming became accessible to just about any engineer or technician. Today, thousands of machinery and automation OEMs and engineers worldwide use the language. Mint stands for Motion Intelligence. It uses keywords to simplify the development of motion control and I/O control, networking, and HMI tasks on automation equipment. These keywords often provide the kernel of application software for common motion control tasks such as registration, labeling, and cutting, for example.

“What gives me a lot of pleasure is that Mint is one of just two or three recognizable software brands in the motion control market,” says Crocker. “I see it mentioned on engineers' resumes. I don't think that would have been the case if we had stuck with the first name we thought of, which was BIFMOC (BASIC Interpreter For Motion Control). Our industry is evolving. We're starting to see more dedicated software engineers getting involved, and these individuals want to use familiar tools, like Visual Basic.”

OMAC announces new PackML guide

The OMAC Packaging Workgroup (OPW), Research Triangle Park, N.C., announces its development of the P&G PackML Implementation Guide. The new guide was created to aid software developers in clean and efficient implementation of PackML, or Packaging Machine Language, which defines a common approach, or “machine language,” for automated machines. The primary goals are to encourage a common look and feel across a plant floor and to encourage industry innovation. PackML was adopted as part of the ISA88 industry standard in August 2008.

In August, Procter & Gamble provided OMAC with the new guide along with the software and help files for implementation on Rockwell's Control-Logix platform. After reviewing the guide, the OPW group decided to adopt it and to encourage technology providers to develop example software that follows the guide.

“Implementation of this guide and example software code should help accelerate the adoption of PackML by both users and machine builders. In fact, a number of other technology providers including B&R Automation, GE Fanuc, Kepware, Schneider Electric Elau Packaging Solutions, Siemens, and Wonderware are planning to develop example software code that will also be available for download on the OMAC website,” says Dave Bauman, OMAC's technical director.

The implementation guide and example Rockwell code from P&G is available for download from OMAC at

PMMI launches e-learning course

PMMI U, the educational arm of packaging association PMMI, introduces its latest e-learning module, “Basic Mechanical Components.” The online training, open to all packaging professionals, teaches basic operating principles of components including bearings, belt drives, brakes and clutches, chains and sprockets, gears, star wheels, and timing screws.

With an Internet connection, students can access the course at their convenience any day of the year. The learning module and a preview are online at To access them, click the PMMI U button in the left-hand navigation bar of the home page.

Short quizzes follow each unit to ensure that students understand the material before moving to the next topic, and a mastery test at the end assesses each participant's understanding of the subject as a whole.

In addition to the PMMI U programming, PMMI provides more than $110,000 annually to fund scholarships to packaging schools and students, produces the Conference at PACK EXPO, and puts on multiple workshops, seminars, and conferences aimed at developing the skills of the packaging industry workforce.

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