Bearing distributors are busy people. They manage massive inventories buying and selling hundreds and thousands of bearings every week. There aren’t enough hours in the day to become an expert for every bearing that crosses their desk let alone bearings of high precision, for which differences in design can have significant impact on performance.
Since many distributors may not have the time or the inclination to learn more than part number, quantity and delivery date, it seems counter-intuitive to suggest that bearing distributors could actually save time by taking a few minutes to ask some questions of their customers before contacting a (precision) bearing supplier.
Beyond part number, quantity and delivery, there are additional and specific questions about the bearing characteristics that are crucial to understanding and achieving optimum performance. For example, what are the speed requirements, type of lubrication, mounting?
Most bearing part numbers, especially for repair/replacement have been established with these questions already “solved, but among some distributors and customers – especially those who are less familiar with high precision bearings – part numbers are sometimes shortened to the design and the series. The only way to be sure is to ask. The alternative can be a time-consuming back and forth resulting sometimes in inefficiency when your supplier comes to you with these (and other) types of questions.
It is important as well to early establish whether or not exact equivalencies are acceptable. In some respects, this should be the first question to ask because the answer will determine your options to fill the order.
One question that we generally ask is “What’s the application?” We’ve found that understanding how a bearing is used can be the best way to understand the type of bearing solution needed and come to the table with knowledge and targeted expertise to best fulfill the order, instill confidence in your customer and virtually reduce any failure mode.
It also helps to ask if there are any special considerations such as noise and vibration or temperature limits. Once again, understanding – and passing along – this information as early as possible can eliminate the back and forth that invariably occurs when the customer calls.
But this isn’t just about saving time. Asking a few targeted questions reduces the potential for mistakes and is an easy investment in your overall knowledge, customer comfort and long-term relationships.
Check back soon; we’ll be updating this post with a printable PDF of the “Questions Every Bearing Distributor Should Ask Before Ordering Precision Bearings.” I keep mine on a cork board next to the phone. That’s how I roll.