The technical equipment used in hospital operating rooms must meet particularly stringent requirements with regard to safety, reliability and flexibility. To that end the contributions made by the bearings that are utilised in these instruments and devices should not be underestimated.

Ceiling mounts play a crucial role in creating a flexible and consistently reliable operating environment which, in turn, directly impacts the quality of the surgery being performed in the OR. Through its INA and FAG brands Schaeffler Group Industrial has developed a wide range of standard bearings and customised solutions that not only meet the rigorous quality and safety standards mandated in OR environments, but in some cases actually expand the application spectrum of the instruments being used.

Bearing solutions for ceiling mounts

In order to ensure fast and smooth changeovers of medical staff and equipment between time-critical operations, designers of today’s operating rooms place the highest priority on creating a flexible layout. For safety reasons as well as to facilitate easy cleanup, supply lines are no longer installed along the floor. At the same time, however, the amount of equipment used in surgical procedures continues to increase. Diagnostic imaging procedures performed during operations, for example, require additional space for monitors that need to be placed in immediate proximity to the operating table. By attaching supply stations to ceiling mounts it is possible to connect numerous devices, computers or monitors without having to run cables along the floor. Moreover, the mounts’ swivel arms allow for flexible and customised positioning of equipment inside the OR.

Consequently, these ceiling mounts must be able to accommodate high loads yet still move with minimal effort, while offering sufficient space for supply lines (e.g., power, oxygen, data, etc.). It is precisely for these types of applications that the Schaeffler Group developed its AXS axial angular contact roller bearing. Installed in pairs, this bearing accepts high loads and tilting moments while ensuring that the ceiling mounts’ movements are smooth and quiet. The bearing’s small cross-section – i.e., its small radial section height relative to the large inner diameter – enlarges the swivel arm’s cross-sectional opening inside the ceiling mount, thereby making it easier to feed the numerous supply lines through.

AXS – lightweight, yet able to handle heavy loads

The AXS angular contact bearing’s salient feature is its lightweight design that requires minimal installation space while at the same time offering remarkable load ratings. Bearing rings that are a mere 1.2mm thick with radial section heights of 7mm and 10mm, respectively, offer clear evidence of the design opportunities that this type of bearing offers with regard to optimising available installation space. The high load ratings permit a significant increase in bearing preload (for swivelling motions, for example) that further enhances titling rigidity, if required.

The AXS angular contact roller bearings’ inner and outer rings are geometrically identical, thereby eliminating mix-ups during final assembly. Together with the roller and cage assembly, the rings simply slide on to the shaft. In addition, ground bearing seats are not needed. The result is a bearing that is quick and easy to assemble, while the precision-turned seats, which are simple to manufacture, significantly reduce the overall costs of this component.

The ZAXFM bearing assembly, which can be either flange- or bolt-mounted, represents a further advancement of the AXS-series. Ready for installation, this bearing assembly comes precisely preloaded and properly greased from the factory. The adjusting nut is mounted directly to the bearing’s inner ring and torqued to the proper specifications. The assembly fitter’s expertise which, until now, was required in order to apply the proper preload and grease to conventional locating bearings, is no longer needed here. This translates into significant cost savings for the customer.


Safety and flexibility are the two critical elements that allow an operating room to function smoothly and efficiently. With its INA and FAG brands Schaeffler Group Industrial offers an outstanding array of solutions that covers the entire spectrum of equipment needs in the OR. This applies to both standard applications as well as individual customised assemblies. Schaeffler’s research and development efforts are focused on creating solutions that deliver the highest level of safety while maximising freedom of motion for doctors, nurses and caregivers; make the medical professional’s job easier and more efficient; and, in the end, benefit the most important person in this entire process: the patient.