Equipment maintenance and replacement is a normal part of any industrial operation. But when an essential part is no longer available, that routine upkeep becomes a critical, time-sensitive problem.

The DTE Energy plant in Monroe, Michigan, faced just such an issue when it needed a replacement bearing sleeve for a fan that is central to the plant’s cooling operations. The original bearing sleeve was made by Allis-Chalmers in 1967, and that company has long since stopped making the part.

DTE Energy’s Sheri Kominek began looking for another source for the part. However, she was quickly frustrated. The bearing sleeve is a large, intricate part that is now supplied only on a one-off basis, and the bearing suppliers she contacted couldn’t come up with someone to make a replacement.

If this part couldn’t be supplied, the entire fan and bearing unit would have to be replaced, costing the plant considerable money, effort — and weeks of downtime. The plant couldn’t afford such a shutdown.

Steps to the right providers

Fortunately, Sheri works with The Macomb Group all the time and knows we can find solutions when there seem to be no alternatives. When she called us to find an option, The Macomb Group was happy to jump in and find a solution.

Original part specification for the Allis-Chalmers bearing sleeve.

STOCK 100035022
BEARING,SLEEVE,7.0000 IN ID,12.0000 IN OD,13.0000 IN
WD,MACHINED PLUS MINUS 0.001 IN 3.1250IN/2.8750 IN

The Macomb Group went to work and called a couple of companies that are good at reverse engineering highly specialized parts. The Macomb team was able to find one partner, BCP in Pennsylvania, that thought they could make the part.

BCP Sales Representative Bonnie Weber looked at the engineering drawings and part information that Chuck sent and was fairly certain they could do the job. To be sure, BCP requested that we ship the only sample sleeve that DTE had so they could complete detailed measurements and confirm that they had a source for casting the two halves that make up the bearing sleeve. BCP also worked for about a month to find a company that could do the intricate machining once the parts had been forged.

Fortunately, Sheri and DTE are proactive in their maintenance, so they could allow for the lead time needed to get the correct part. In the end, The Macomb Group was able to take care of what seemed to be an impossible task, saving DTE Energy from a costly and disruptive shutdown.

When you need a supplier you can rely on at every stage of your project, contact the experts at The Macomb Group. You can reach us by email at or by phone at 888-756-4110. For a complete list of The Macomb Group locations and numbers, visit our website.