Timken’s Engineering Expertise Keeps Vaccines Safe and Viable

Vaccines save lives. Each year, more than 80% of the world’s infants are fully vaccinated against potentially fatal diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Medical communities currently administer about 22.4 million COVID-19 shots daily in the world’s largest-ever public health effort.

Timken plays an unseen yet vital role in vaccine production. The company’s engineering expertise and bearing products help keep injections safe and viable for patients. Timken® housed units support the operation of cooling towers that act as industrial-scale air conditioners. Cooling towers keep rooms within strict cold temperature ranges for two reasons: to inhibit bacterial growth so every dose remains sterile, and to stabilize the molecular structure of each shot so it works as intended.

Solving problems to support growing vaccine capacity

Hyacinth Fahsi, Timken’s territory sales manager in Western Europe, works behind the scenes to help a variety of industries work safely and efficiently. However, he said he finds supporting vaccine manufacturing, especially during a global pandemic, to be one of his most rewarding work experiences.

“We always thrive in situations where our engineering expertise helps strategic systems work more effectively,” Fahsi said. “In this case, there is a certain sense of pride in solving problems that help improve public health.”

Fahsi is referring to Timken’s recent collaboration with a cooling solutions provider to help a major vaccine production hub in Europe remain up and running.

The pharmaceutical facility produces vaccines for several infectious diseases including COVID-19. However, the facility was experiencing cooling tower failures about once every three months. Production was disrupted each time. The cause was traced to performance issues with ball bearing housed units supplied by a Timken competitor. Housed units are the linchpins between cooling tower fans and the electric motors that power them. They make the whole system work.

Fahsi teamed up with Hubert Roth, Timken’s regional service engineering manager, who had previous cooling tower experience in other critical applications, including towers used in massive data centers that store, process and distribute digital information around the world and heavy-duty cooling towers like those used in oil refining and chemical production.

Together they analyzed the damaged bearings and used advanced Timken software to calculate the application’s true technical needs. They discovered where the competing bearing design went wrong; it couldn’t manage the misalignment or loading conditions of the application.

Timken has since provided specialized tapered roller bearing housed units for the vaccine maker’s four existing cooling towers. Recently, four new Timken-equipped cooling towers were delivered to support a major expansion as the facility grows to support COVID-19 vaccine demand. The Timken solution has already outperformed the competitor by two times.


Learn more about how Timken makes critical technical contributions for society in areas like electric vehicles, food and beverage and renewable energy like wind and solar.