What do we mean by ‘equivalents’ and how do they apply to bearings?

By Bart van Oevelen - In Products - 13 Jul 2020

What do we mean by ‘equivalents’ and how do they apply to bearings?

What if the bearing your customer is looking for is not in stock? Or when you would prefer a different brand? Good news: ‘equivalents’ (also known as ‘cross-references’) are interchangeable. However, within the myriad of brands and part numbers it can be very difficult to determine which bearings can be used in place of others. Together with our Product Manager Bart van Oevelen we would like to explain what these ‘equivalents’ are by means of this blog. And also, how you can correctly advise your customers in turn.

What are ‘equivalents’?

By ‘equivalents’ we refer to bearings of different brands, which have the same dimensions and properties. These bearings can thus be used under the exact same conditions. ‘Equivalents’ therefore allow for more flexibility and freedom of choice. When a certain type of bearing is hard to obtain, you can still service your customer. Or maybe you would like to offer a less expensive brand for a change. But how do you know which bearings are interchangeable?

“Equivalents can be used under the exact same conditions.”

Bart van Oevelen explains: “To exemplify a number of things we will first have a look at the part numbers. The full part number of a bearing consists of a designation and possibly pre- or suffixes. The designation denotes the series and bore. In principle, most bearing brands use the same designations, with some exceptions. It’s a standard notation that contains important information. If you are aware of the meaning behind them.”

Diagram composition of bearing part number

Pre- and suffixes of bearings

Unfortunately, similar logic does not exist for pre- and suffixes. “In some cases the prefix is actually part of the designation,” Bart clarifies. “Manufacturers use their own codes with seemingly random compositions. A few of these codes are shared between certain brands to denote the same characteristics. But this is not true for all of them.”

“A few examples of suffixes referring to a bearing with rubber seals on both sides are: 2R, 2RS1, 2RSR, LLU or EE,” Bart elaborates. “And the code “C3” means that the internal play of a bearing is higher than one with the standard play “CN”. It’s obvious that these indications can be quite abstract if you do not know what they stand for.”

  FAG SKF Timken NTN Koyo NSK
Rubber seals on two sides 2RSR RS1 2RS LLU 2RS DDU
Steel shields on two sides 2Z 2Z ZZ ZZ ZZ ZZ
C3 internal play (higher than CN) C3 C3 C3 C3 C3 C3
Brass cage M M M L1 M / FY M
Lubrication groove and 3 holes S / – W33 W33 D1 W33 E4 / W33
Vibrating screen version (C4 and strengthened cage) T41A VA405 W800 VS1 W502 VS4
Examples of various suffixes, per property.
‘-‘ = suffix not listed separately

Name changes of bearing series

Sometimes the properties of complete bearing series are changed. What usually follows is a name change, like with the introduction of the X-life label of manufacturer Schaeffler, denoted with the suffix ‘XL’. “And when such a characteristic is made standard, that code can then be dropped from the part number again,” Bart explains.

Knowledge of used pre- and suffixes is required for all brands to fully understand the meaning behind a part number. Only when all properties of a bearing are known, you can tell if you’re dealing with a suitable equivalent. Fortunately, ABF has already made this translation for you. The result? Over 2,000,000 available equivalents!

“Only when all properties of a bearing are known, you can tell if you are dealing with a suitable equivalent.”

How do you find the right equivalent?

Equivalents can be found the ABF online store in two ways. The first is that every product also shows you its available equivalents. All references mentioned under “Equivalents” are interchangeable.

Secondly, the available equivalents are shown whenever you are searching for a specific bearing number. In the 45 second video shown below we shortly explain how.

How does ABF obtain this information?

Bart: “We have linked the bearing numbers and the appropriate properties in our own database. This database has been carefully constructed over the past years and is maintained by a specialized department. No ready-to-use product lists of suppliers or other companies are used in this process. We also make frequent use of it ourselves. This information is particularly useful with requests for cylindrical roller bearings, ball bearings and spindle bearings. And if you run into problems online, then we are more than happy to help you personally!”

“And if you run into problems online, then we are more than happy to help you personally!”

Visit the ABF online store
Bart van Oevelen Product Manager baoe@abf.store +31 (0)165 722 011

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