The Importance of Efficiency for Both Elite Bearings and Athletes


Napoleon Engineering specializes in bearing efficiency evaluation

OLEAN, N.Y. – Angelina Napoleon squares her hips and shoulders.

She minimizes her movements to maintain forward momentum. She quickly returns her body to the proper position, allowing her feet to hit the ground with minimal interruption of her stride.

Napoleon, of Allegany, N.Y., a small town tucked beneath the Allegheny Mountains, has established herself as one of the top under-20 runners in the country. She twice set the women’s U-20 record while claiming national titles in the 2,000-meter steeplechase. She’s an eight-time New York State scholastic track and field and cross-country champion. She’s the reigning Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Player of the Year.

For Napoleon, the difference between her and others lies in her form and overall efficiency. In the steeplechase, she’s able to return to form faster on the other side of the barrier.

For Napoleon Engineering Services (NES), the distinguished bearing company located in nearby Olean, N.Y., the difference is rooted in a similar spirit: NES specializes in evaluating bearing efficiency within the global supply chain.

An accomplished runner, for example, must reduce expended energy per stride while increasing speeds over a given distance. For an accomplished bearing manufacturer, it’s much the same; it must achieve optimal cross raceway and circumferential form to maintain pure and efficient rolling motion and less power draw per revolution.

For both, efficiency is the name of the game.

“Regardless of race length, runners are giving maximum effort over the distance traveled,” said Angelina, now at the renowned North Carolina State collegiate program. “Those with the fastest pace win the race. What often determines who wins is efficiency.

“There are several aspects that go into determining a runner’s overall efficiency, such as optimized strength to weight, stride length, heart rate and form. At the elite level, you need to look at all characteristics that can shave off precious seconds or fractions of a second.”

In running, there’s a wholistic, unceasing approach to perfection. Napoleon surrounds herself with talented coaches, measures what she can, assesses results and implements changes over time to produce positive outcomes.

NES has long since incorporated its own comprehensive procedure. It makes the proper measurements, evaluates and suggests changes in pursuit of identifying the most efficient bearing. Like Angelina with her coaches, bearing and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must consult with an experienced group that studies and understands what allows a bearing to be efficient.

NES is that team of coaches.

At Napoleon Engineering, that process begins with its acclaimed Source Qualification Inspection (SQI), a complete reverse bearing engineering program. The objective is three-fold: To evaluate the design intentions, the ability of the manufacturer to carry out those intentions and the overall quality of workmanship.

“We evaluate all external characteristics of the bearing and every internal characteristic, every interactive surface to evaluate its form, fit and function,” said Chris Napoleon, NES’ president and chief engineer. “We perform visual inspection; we evaluate material chemistry and microstructure. It’s a similarly wholistic approach for assessing bearing efficiency.”

For both elite athletes and NES’ engineers, the key is bringing those elements together for a desired result.

For Angelina, that largely comes down to form.

“My entire body is responsible for my overall form,” she said. “My legs are doing a lot of the work, but so are my arms, shoulders, back and head. I need to optimize my form, and my coaches emphasize the need to maintain it as fatigue sets in during a race.”

NES, meanwhile, accomplishes this through its digital stitching program, in which its inspection department and engineers work together to deliver enhanced technical information about the interaction between contacting surfaces within a bearing. This has only enhanced the value of NES’ Source Qualification Inspection program. It allows NES to compile that data and say, “Interesting. Now I see what that whole body can do,” Napoleon said.

Once defined, Napoleon Engineering can then determine through physical testing the live results of those characteristics that are digitally stitched together.

“We can then see how they play out through dynamic testing,” Napoleon said, “where we’re measuring the temperature output, the bearing torque, essentially the power loss for efficiency of the bearing. This is very powerful for industrial OEMs or manufacturers who are looking for efficient bearings.”

To set herself apart, Angelina and her coaches study efficiency and the different ways to enhance it. This is critical to her continued success at the elite level. And it’s akin to what bearing manufacturers and OEMs are facing in today’s climate. We are always looking to conserve energy. We’re pushing further toward electrification despite limited available power sources.

As such, bearing efficiency has become important as ever.

NES focuses on this very service. It’s the respected source for it. It’s the national leader, boasting North America’s largest independent bearing inspection and testing facility. “If a customer wants to produce an efficient bearing or purchase an efficient bearing for use in their application, then they need to consult with their coaches,” Napoleon said. “We’re the coaches to our customers. We provide everything that allows them to be better and achieve their goals.”

Indeed, NES possesses the training, equipment and skill to produce the most unparalleled evaluations for bearing efficiency. These result in better performance, energy savings, reduced maintenance and downtime and non- biased results of product performance.

“For OEMs, this can be used to demonstrate how good (their bearings) are,” Napoleon noted, “or to improve upon their performance to be the best that they can possibly be, just as Angelina works day in and day out to improve her overall efficiency, to become a champion.”

(Courtesy of J.P. Butler, Marketing Coordinator, Napoleon Engineering Services.)

Napoleon Engineering Services


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