Run Over 6 Years in a Potato Chip Fryer

The maintenance manager, at a major snack food manufacturer, checked the Graphalloy bushings installed on the paddle wheels of their potato chip fryer and “realized they had been running strong for over 6 years!”potato chip fryer application

Back in 2014, the company had installed a new potato chip fryer at the plant as part of a reshoring initiative. Based on their previous successes with Graphalloy, they installed Graphalloy type 963 2-bolt, stainless steel pillow blocks with FDA acceptable Graphalloy grade bushing inserts, on the paddle wheel drive shaft, running at 50 RPM.

GRAPHALLOY bearings in a fryer applicationThese paddle wheels operate like the ones you see on a steamboat, only instead of moving water for forward propulsion, the wheels rotate at a specific speed to keep the potato chips in the hot oil (375°F) for an exact amount of time.  The manager said “to get the perfect kind of ‘crispy’; you cannot leave the chips in the oil for too long, or else they will get soggy. Running 6,000 pounds of potatoes through the fryer system per hour means that those bearings on the paddle wheel drive system work non-stop!”

There are two drive systems on the fryer and the second paddle wheel is the one that has the Graphalloy bearings, so when they realized those bearings had been operating for 6 years without any wear and tear, they started to ask themselves “what other pieces of equipment should we install these bearings on?”


The maintenance manager said there were three key reasons why the Graphalloy bearings were proving beneficial for them. In his words:

1. No grease required - In the food industry, care must be taken with machinery lubrication. Even though the industry uses food-safe grease products, you just don’t want any kind of grease messing with the quality of your product.

2. No maintenance - These bearings were installed and ran for six years without failure nor any issues whatsoever. Many continuous-duty process industry applications experience bearing failure after about six months to a year, but in our case, these ran reliably without our maintenance team having to give any attention to them.

3. Longevity - In an industry that typically ‘runs to failure’, it feels much better as a maintenance manager to know we’re installing something that is going to run for a very long time. It means we can trust the machinery to operate and gives us time to focus our attention on other important projects.  

In October of last year, during their planned shutdown, they installed additional Graphalloy bearings for the other paddle wheel drive system on the potato chip fryer. The manager “realized we needed to modify the base a little bit so it would properly fit in there, and the engineers at Graphite Metallizing Corporation worked with us to manufacture and provide us with a stainless steel pillow block. “

The Lead Mechanic said “even though we had to modify the bearing housing a bit to make it work, it’s been a great investment. We installed the new bearings in October and here it is, October of 2020, and they’re still no signs of wear. When you have to spend money on maintenance during a planned shutdown, it’s good to know you’re putting in components that work reliably.”

Graphalloy Pillow Block for Fryer ApplicationThe Graphalloy bearings worked so well on the potato chip fryer that the maintenance manager ordered Graphalloy bushings, in stainless steel flange blocks, for their corn washer, where they were having constant issues with bearing failure. The greased bearings they had been using did not react well to the caustic material that is used during their sanitization process. Every 13 days, the sanitization process utilizes a caustic spray to clean the machinery, and with the corn washer, they did not want to risk rust contaminating the final product. The plant processes between 18,000 - 26,000 pounds of corn per 8-hour run in the corn washer, and they “wanted to use a material that could stand up to these wash-down chemicals.”

The manager said “I can happily report that these Graphalloy bushings are officially entered into our system. With another planned shutdown and maintenance event coming up this fall, we’ll have another order for the knowledgeable and supportive folks at Graphite Metallizing Corporation.”

Download the Graphalloy Food Application Flyer Here