SKF hosted their annual Technical Press Day on June 9, 2014, at Penske Headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. This was my first event to cover for Pumps & Systems, so I had a lot to learn! Here are a just a few of the things I picked up at press day.

See photo coverage of the day here.

1) Bearing Basics – Dan Juchniewicz, SKF Applications Engineer, started his presentation with the basics—what bearings do, where they are used, and how they work. I learned the difference between a roller bearing and a ball bearing, the importance of raceway contact, and the wide array of industries and applications that need bearings to keep moving. Look for more of Dan’s expertise in the coming months!

2) Penske Operations – Travis Geisler, Team Penske’s Director of Competition, shared some insights into Penske’s operations. As a NASCAR novice, I had no idea that a racing team would maintain 14 cars for every car number registered, that every weekend drivers get a new or fully rebuilt car, or that cars only go through two or three races before they retire.

On our facility tour, I was amazed by how clean and organized the garage was. The grey tile floor that ran through every department was spotless.

Geisler explained that Penske strategically outsources parts of their business so that employees can dedicate time and resources to tasks that best use their skills.

3) SKF’s Contributions to Penske Racing – SKF is one company that helps improve Penske’s cars with specialized knowledge. “SKF’s expertise is the most difficult thing to go buy,” said Geisler.

SKF provides Team Penske with information through thermal imaging of a car’s tires after a race, allowing engineers and mechanics to examine wear patterns and balance. SKF has also equipped cars with improved bearing grease that allows bearings to operate at higher temperatures. This eliminated the failures that came with the high temperatures associated with increased speed and downforce, ultimately freeing Penske’s cars to go faster.

4) A Visit from a Penske Driver – NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski was kind enough to stop by and say hello to the SKF Technical Press Day group, even after weekend race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. After seeing driver’s seats made specifically for him on our facility tour and hearing about the focus the whole Penske team has on giving their drivers every advantage, it was great to see Brad in person.

5) SKF Bearings in the Las Vegas High Roller – Account Manager Randy Greaser showed off SKF’s role in the new attraction the Las Vegas High Roller. SKF provided a 7-foot bearing to allow the wheel to rotate. The scale of this project presented the team with some unique challenges. Each housing uses more than 1000 pounds of grease. The grease had to have a high viscosity because of the slow rotation speed of the High Roller.

These were a few of the highlights from a very educational day. Thanks to SKF for hosting and providing some great technical information.