Bearing Industry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bearing Industry


a specialized branch of machine building that produces antifriction bearings, plain bearings, and parts for antifriction bearings. In 1973 the bearing industry of the USSR produced more than 15,000 different standard types, ranging in size from 1 mm to 3 m and in weight from hundredths of a gram to six metric tons—a total of 798.7 million items.

The industrial production of antifriction bearings was started in 1883 in Germany. At about the same time, bearing factories went into operation in the USA. In Russia the first bearing enterprise, in which ball bearings were assembled in small shops, opened in 1916 in Moscow. After the October Revolution of 1917 it was transferred (1923) in the form of a concession to the Swedish firm SKF. The enterprise produced 8,300 bearings in 1924. Construction was started in 1929 on the first State Bearing Factory (GPZ-1), which was put into operation in 1932. GPZ-2 was organized in 1931 as the successor to the SKF concession, which was abolished. In 1941, GPZ-3 became operational at Saratov. In 1932, 2 million bearings were produced in the USSR, and in 1940, 44.8 million. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), the bearing industry provided bearings for military equipment and also produced defense goods. During the postwar period, factories were built that specialized in the production of bearings in limited design ranges. By 1974 there were 19 bearing enterprises, including GPZ-1 and GPZ-2 in Moscow, GPZ-4 and GPZ-9 in Kuibyshev, GPZ-3 in Saratov, GPZ-8 in Kharkov, GPZ-11 in Minsk, GPZ-15 in Volzhskii, and enterprises in Tomsk, Sverdlovsk, Baku, Rostov-on-Don, Izhevsk, Prokop’-evsk, Vinnitsa, Kursk, and Vologda. Another 14 factories have been built to recondition bearings.

All forms of production are combined in the bearing industry: mass, large-series, and lot. Much of the production is automated. There are 830 automated production lines in operation, and 63 percent of all production equipment is automatic or semiautomatic; monitoring operations are extensively automated. A high level of labor productivity has also been achieved. In 1973 the level of production in the bearing industry was 3.3 times higher than in 1960. The export of bearings has expanded, and they are now shipped to more than 40 countries. There is now an All-Union Scientific Research Design and Engineering Institute of the Bearing Industry. Bearing designs are being improved, new technological processes are being introduced, and existing plants, as well as new ones, are being equipped with high-production automated facilities.

Bearing industries have been created and are developing in the foreign socialist countries. Thus, bearing enterprises appeared before World War II (1939-45) in Czechoslovakia and were built after the war, with Soviet aid, in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Rumania. Table 1 shows the growth in production of antifriction bearings in some countries that are members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).

Table 1. Bearing production in the COMECON countries (in millions of bearings)
German Democratic Republic .......32.954.172.7

The international Organization for Cooperation in the Bearing Industry (OCBP) has been set up. It includes the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the Hungarian People’s Republic, the German Democratic Republic, the Polish People’s Republic, the Socialist Republic of Rumania, the USSR, and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

In the capitalist countries the Swedish firm SKF, which has branches in many countries, occupies a prominent place in the bearing industry. The bearing industry is well-developed in the USA, where 751 million antifriction bearings were produced in 1971. The major US firms are the Timken Company and the Fafnir Bearing Company. Japan, another major producer, turned out 1,007 million antifriction bearings in 1971. The major Japanese firms are the Nippon Seiko Company, the Koyo Seiko Company, and the Toyo Bearing Company. The leading British firm is Ransome Hoffman Pollard, Ltd. The leading firm in the Federal Republic of Germany is Kugelfischer Georg Schafer and Company; in Italy, the Officina di Villar Perosa; and in France, the Société Nouvelle de Roulement.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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