Motion Control & Drives


SKF’s integrated agri-specific solutions

June 2023 Motion Control & Drives

SKF is a deep-rooted, dependable partner to South Africa’s agricultural industry. The organisation incorporates decades of experience and know-how within this sector in its development of leading-edge agri-specific products and technologies that optimise the performance and reliability of farm machinery.

This will be SKF’s tenth year at the annual Nampo Agricultural Trade Show which takes place in Bothaville, Free State, during May. “As one of the largest agricultural exhibitions under private ownership in the southern hemisphere, Nampo presents us with a favourable platform to showcase our extensive agri-portfolio,” says SKF’s key accounts manager, Charl Engelbrecht.

“Farmers are under tremendous pressure to optimise yields, while keeping operational and input costs in check,” notes Engelbrecht. “Sustainable productivity and production, which are fundamental to achieving these goals, hinge for the most part on sustainable equipment reliability.”

Combine harvesters, tractors, balers, disc harrows, planters, etc. are constantly subjected to punishing conditions out in the fields. The ingress of contaminants such as dirt, dust, mud, and crop residue cause component wear and damage that can result in premature equipment failure. With limited planting and harvesting windows, farmers can ill afford equipment failure and breakdowns in the field, with the accompanying unproductive downtime and repair costs that chip away at the bottom line.

So farmers turn to OEMs for components and equipment that deliver ever-greater reliability, prolonged lifecycle, efficiency, and performance. “We work in close collaboration with other OEM engineers to develop high quality, reliable products that are fully compatible with their machines and equipment,” states Engelbrecht. “This puts SKF in the unique position of being able to support both end users and OEMs with high quality, cost-effective solutions that deliver low total cost of ownership and a rapid return on investment.”

Alongside ongoing product innovation, SKF develops new technologies which are incorporated into the design and engineering of its agri-range of radial and axial bearings, hub bearing units, sealing solutions and chains, and also maintenance and lubrication solutions. “We make sure that these products undergo rigorous testing so that they perform optimally and reliably across every stage of the crop cycle, from tillage, seeding and fertilising/spraying to harvesting, mowing and baling,” says Engelbrecht.

SKF bearings and seals are engineered to withstand exposure to mud, dust, debris, temperature extremes, and corrosive chemicals in order to provide reliable rotation. This, in turn, contributes to high machine and equipment availability, minimum maintenance, and low operating costs for the farmer.

SKF’s range of application-specific bearing seals delivers heavy-duty sealing performance on a wide variety of agricultural attachments. The advanced sealing technology is specifically designed to simplify installation and to reduce the need for relubrication.

The fact that SKF Agri Hubs do not require re-lubrication makes these greased-for-life hub bearing units extremely popular on a variety of equipment including disc ploughs, fertiliser injector discs, opener and closing seeding discs. An advanced hermetic sealing solution ensures that no lubricant loss will occur over the complete lifespan of this virtually maintenance free, plug-and-play unit. The cutting-edge ‘mud block’ seal and special labyrinth, which are central to the sealing principle, achieve excellent sealing performance, providing dynamic sealing against the ingress of contaminants such as stones, mud, and dust. A special cup and O-ring system provides the static sealing of the disc side in the unit, making it impervious to contaminant ingress. In addition to delivering substantial savings in terms of time and lubrication costs, SKF Agri Hubs also, most importantly, prevent land contamination.

SKF’s wide range of bearings, including ball bearings, tapered roller bearings, agri-specific bearings and units, the agri hub range, Y bearings and units, MUD11 seals and power transmission products, are specially developed to handle aggressive agricultural conditions. The bearings are suitable for tractors and combine harvester applications, and for various agricultural attachments that are used for seeding, including opener and closing discs as well as for gauge, press and implement wheels, seed-metre drive shafts, and row markers.

SKF’s agri-portfolio has grown extensively over the last 20 years, and SKF has become a brand of choice amongst many farmers and leading OEMs. Equally important to high quality, reliable products is service. “Here too,” says Engelbrecht, “farmers have come to rely on our solid hands-on support through our professional and dedicated distributor network and after-sales service solutions.”


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