G&J Distillers parts review has vital bearing on operations

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

New slewing ring bearings are now held as spares, guaranteeing future quick replacements
New slewing ring bearings are now held as spares, guaranteeing future quick replacements

Related tags: Drinks, Packaging & labelling, Technology & Automation, factory design & Maintenance

G&J Distillers has overhauled a type of bottling machine ring bearing to safeguard continued operation and optimise performance in partnership with parts supplier RA Rodriguez.

The Warrington-based company, which claims to be the oldest continuous gin distiller in the world, reassessed its ability to replace slewing ring bearings on its two Hartness Global Fill bottling machines. 

“Our customers, which include some of the world’s leading retailers, trust us to produce and supply a range of outstanding quality spirits,”​ stated engineering manager Stephen Hellam. “With quality being so important to our business, we need suppliers who can support our operation. The two Hartness Global Fill machines are integral to production at Warrington. 

“The Hartness Global Fill machines are 15 years old and, although there are currently no issues with the slewing ring bearing, we did not have a serviceable spare,” explained production manager Stephen Swinney. “Our existing spare had been used at some point in the past and was visibly worn. It was clear that reconditioning was required immediately as, without a replacement, machine failure could mean a shortage of supply to our customers.”

Spares unavailable

Unfortunately, Hartness no longer produces this version of the Global Fill machine and spares are unavailable. Swinney therefore turned to R A Rodriguez (UK), asking for assistance in identifying the bearing and making recommendations to ascertain its potential for reuse. 

“We had to find a company we had confidence in to take on a large diameter ‘unknown’ bearing in an ‘unknown’ condition and offer a full reconditioning service,”​ he says. 

With no drawings available, initial measurements taken by R A Rodriguez (UK) revealed the part was bespoke. Measuring 61" in outside diameter and 52.25" bore, the slewing ring bearing featured 30 through-holes in the inner ring and 30 tapped blind holes in the outer ring. The box was marked with packed weight of 401kg, with no further details obtainable. 

Ship bearing to Germany

R A Rodriguez liaised with Rodriguez GmbH and it was agreed to ship the bearing to Germany for a thorough strip, clean and internal inspection; a process that resulted in a workable drawing. That drawing would allow G&J Distillers to make comparisons with adjacent construction and enable R A Rodriguez (UK). to submit a quote for a brand new bearing, as well as refurbish the old one.

“The response and communication from R.A. Rodriguez (UK) was faultless and very professional throughout the entire process,”​ states Mr Swinney. 

Being the quickest option, G&J Distillers initially selected the remanufactured bearing. However, it also decided to proceed with the new bearing as it would serve as future back-up for this vital part of its bottling line. The competitive price of the new bearing was a further factor in the purchase decision. 

More years of uninterrupted production

Remanufacturing the worn bearing involved thorough cleaning prior to opening up and installing new rolling elements. In addition, seals were greased, and clearances and run-outs checked. This service, along with production of the new bearing, was turned around quickly at Rodriguez GmbH’s facility in Eschweiler, Germany. R A Rodriguez (UK) subsequently delivered both the remanufactured bearing and the new one to G&J Distillers, guaranteeing many more years of uninterrupted production. 

“Having one of our bottle filling machines out of commission is simply not an option,”​ concluded Swinney. “For this reason, we were thankful of the quick and efficient response to our request for assistance and are very satisfied with the outcome. In fact, I’d rate the service provided by R A Rodriguez (UK). as ten out of ten.

"We’ve previously had other products from Rodriguez and the quality is always of the highest order. Both the remanufactured and new slewing ring bearings are now held as spares, which means peace-of-mind for our production team and our customers.”

With more than 250 years of quality gin heritage, G&J Distillers producers brands such as Greenall’s, Bloom, Opihr, Thomas Dakin and Berkeley Square, plus some leading UK retailer gin brands.

Related topics: Drinks, Operations, Packaging equipment

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