At GLN we pride ourselves on knowing about bearings and industrial machinery, and can provide advice on a wide range of issues.

A Case For Improved Storage

It’s well-understood that the presence of moisture, contamination or corrosion around mechanical (and electrical) equipment can be catastrophic to their performance but, despite this, their packaging and long-term storage needs are often neglected.

Each year Australian industries rework or scrap unused critical spare parts because of storage related damage with a total cost to business that is certain to run into tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. The good news is most of this damage is avoidable by simply applying a suitable level of protection to the component – either at initial supply or prior to it becoming damaged.

Manufacturers usually take some steps to protect their products (by way of protective coatings and packaging) but it is generally not cost effective for them to apply the high level of protection required for long term and/or critical storage. In cases where this is required, it is important to provide additional protection and re-package industrial components with quality vapour corrosion inhibitors (VCI) materials to ensure they remain corrosion- and contamination-free for the required storage duration.

We encourage you to ensure your critical spares are “fit for purpose” when required, and can provide you with a custom designed packaging solution. We can protect virtually any size and shape component (or piece of equipment) and can complete the project in our workshop or on site at your location. 

What are VCI materials?

Materials containing vapour corrosion inhibitors (VCIs) emit vapourised particles which are drawn to the component being protected. At a molecular level, a barrier of protective particles builds up which prevents oxidation and therefore stops corrosion. In addition to these particles, the VCI carrier material (plastic film, foil or paper) itself also provides a sealed physical barrier between the outside atmosphere and internal component.

Contact between the carrier material and component is not required as transmission of the VCI particles occurs regardless. This feature allows the active VCIs to reach all areas of the component regardless of its shape or how intricate it might be.

When the component is ready for use, simply removing the VCI carrier material will allow the protective particles to dissipate - leaving contamination- and corrosion-free products that are ready to use.

VCI Materials We Use

At GLN we use the highest quality VCI packaging materials available to ensure that the longest possible storage times are achieved. Examples include:

  • “Soft Film” liquid – a virtually impenetrable moisture barrier applied to all exposed metal surfaces prior to wrapping.
  • VCI triple layer film – tough 200µm corrosion-inhibiting triple laminate plastic film that is UV stabilised for outdoor storage.
  • VCI foil – 190µm corrosion-inhibiting foil/film laminate used for barrier protection in critical or severe storage environments.
  • VCI film sheet – 100µm corrosion-inhibiting plastic film sheet used for short to mid-term packaging
  • 180μm plastic laminated VCI paper – tough, reinforced corrosion-inhibiting paper strip for external spiral wrapping of components.
  • VCI paper – used for wrapping lightweight components for short term storage.
  • VCI plastic bags of various sizes and gauges.
  • Custom made coverings - VCI plastic and foil sheets, wraps and bags.
  • Other options include
    • humidity indicators
    • temperature/ humidity data loggers
    • VCI emitter discs
    • desiccant silica bags and gels
    • static shields/bags for sensitive electronic equipment
    • hard VCI plastic storage cases
  • Custom made heavy duty cardboard and timber packing boxes – (ISPM15 export specification and/or insect-resistant treatments available for timber boxes).

All VCI materials are laboratory tested for performance – (some approved for use in military & NATO storage applications).

All VCI materials are laboratory tested for performance – (some approved for use in military & NATO storage applications).

Suggested Storage Times

Storage times vary greatly depending on several factors but extreme temperatures, large temperature fluctuations and high humidity have the greatest impact on longevity.

Oxidation occurs due to three factors – oxygen, moisture and time – and if one or more of these is removed it cannot occur. The correct packaging solution aims to stop, limit and/or control the internal oxygen and moisture which means that time becomes far less of a concern. Even so, nothing can be stored indefinitely, and the time will eventually come where the component will either need to be used or be opened, cleaned, inspected and re-packaged again.

With the products and processes used by GLN, we expect to be able to provide up to 15 years corrosion and contamination free storage in temperate/low humidity environments and up to 10 years where extreme/humid conditions are present. Longer times may be possible under certain conditions, but this is not generally considered practicable for most industrial components.

Bearing Storage Times

Due to their fine finishes and precise tolerances bearings are particularly sensitive to damage by inappropriate and/or long-term storage. Despite being generally well protected at the factory, they cannot be stored indefinitely in their original state.

Major manufacturers publish information that details suggested storage times under various environmental conditions.

Based on this and our own experience we recommend the following be used as a guide:

  • Pre-lubricated (sealed or shielded) bearings should be stored for no more than three years. After this time the factory added grease can start to break down and lose its lubricating properties, potentially leading to premature failure of the bearing.
  • Open (un-sealed) bearings should be stored for a maximum of 5 years as the factory applied protectant may begin to deteriorate and react with the steel surfaces after this time.

Note – These storage times are for new/ex-factory bearings under “ideal” storage conditions.  “Ideal” storage conditions are considered to be environments where temperatures do not exceed 25°C and humidity remains below 65% - (unless bearings are stored in a closed airconditioned room, but this is not a common Australian storage environment).