Drew Devitt, CTO of Bently Bearings covers topics ranging from various types of bearings to the Declaration of Independence and politics!
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome back to the show. Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com being the website. 844-814-8144, being the 24 hour call-in line, get your calls in. We’re going to get the experts in here, to get your questions answered. We’re down at the Turbo Show. Turbo Show is the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposia, brought to you by the Turbo Lab at Texas A&M University, part of the mechanical engineering department. Interesting stuff, we’re talking about rotating equipment. Pumps, gear boxes, compressors, turbines, everything that goes round and round, which is a big, big part of the economy here in Texas. Part of having rotating equipment, is the bearing industry, the bearing business, right? You got to have some way of allowing those components to turn, right? I’m your host, Matt Register, Jay Curry had to step out. George Walden is sitting here in the co-host chair, what do you think about it?
George Walden: Well, I’m very excited about where this conversation is probably going to go. We’re going to learn a little bit today about how bearings work, and how bearings can actually float on air. So, interesting concept. I’m hoping we also have a deeper conversation about our country today. This should be an exciting episode.
Matt Register: It will certainly be interesting. We have Drew Devitt, here in the booth, from New Way Air Bearings all the way from Philadelphia. You would think he’d be passing out cheese steaks, instead he’s passing out copies of the constitution here at the show. Welcome to the show, sir.
Drew Devitt: Thank you, Matt. Thank you Matt and George, glad to be here.
Matt Register: Tell us about New Way Air Bearings, because what you provide is the mechanism with which the shafts and gears can turn. But it’s not your typical roller element bearing, right? You’re thinking of, it’s actually using air pressure to where these things have less friction than that, correct?
Drew Devitt: Right. The people in this industry are used to using oil bearings, or hydrodynamic oil bearings. Some of them are starting to move to magnetic bearings, because of the issues they have with oil, and trying to get higher efficiencies.
Matt Register: Sure.
Drew Devitt: Our air bearings, basically offer you the performance of magnetic bearings at the cost and convenience of the oil bearings. They fit in the same space, and the maintenance guys know how to adjust them-
Matt Register: These shafts are basically turning on a little thin chain of pressurized air that goes into it. They’re actually turning on air, they’re not actually rubbing against anything, right?
Drew Devitt: That’s right. They float on air, just like they’re completely suspended, like magic just about. You have to have an externally pressurized source that you put into the bearing, and then we use carbon or graphite as a restricted element in the bearing, and we’re able to float shafts that weigh hundreds of tons, or at least tens of tons.
Matt Register: Tens of tons, so that’s some pretty significant air pressure going in there, right?
Drew Devitt: Right, but when you’ve some area and you multiply it, it’s kind of like a hydraulic cylinder. It’s amazing how much work can be done with a hydraulic cylinder that the bearing acts the same way.
Matt Register: Yeah. No kidding. I got it. Tell us a little bit about your company, because you purchased another company, you’re out there in the market preaching the gospel of the air bearings. How’s that going for you?
Drew Devitt: Right, well we sell lots and lots of air bearings to the semi conductor in the medical, the flat panel display industry, the machine tool industry, but this industry here, is kind of a special industry. I don’t think anybody has recognized the name New Way. We’re pretty well known in the other industries-
Matt Register: Well they certainly don’t turn on a dime, do they? It takes a little time, right?
Drew Devitt: Don Bentley, was really the father of rotor dynamics. He was the first guy to use eddy current probes to look at what was going on with rotors. After he sold his company to GE, he continued working on what he was really interested in was pressurized are bearings. He wrote a lot about how great he thought air bearings were. He though he could solve most of the rotor dynamic problems that people had with externally pressurized air bearings.
Drew Devitt: Unfortunately, he died before he was very successful with it, but I was able to buy that company from his son. We’re trying to promote these Bentley Bearings here at this show, because people know the name Bentley. Associate that with his intelligence and the work that he did, both for the theoretical work, and some of the practical work to get it started.
Matt Register: Now, somebody decides they want to install these bearings, what are some of the benefits they get using that versus something else?
Drew Devitt: Well, you get rid of all the problems that you have with oil. If it’s a stem turbine, you’re always getting water in your oil. If you run the bearing on steam, you don’t have that problem. You can run the bearings hot immersed. Super critical CO2 is a hot topic here at the show because it’s probably one of the best mediums for these new power cycles to get waste heat out of all these things that it wasn’t worth getting waste heat out of before.
Drew Devitt: You can actually run the bearings out of super critical CO2, you just can’t do that with an oil bearing. Now, they’re also good for smacking seals. Magnetic bearings, they can’t be used as a seal.
Matt Register: Sure.
Drew Devitt: In fact, they usually need to have back up bearings. We can make the thrust bearing be the seal, and the balance piston and it completely changes the architecture of the machine, when you go to design a machine.
Matt Register: Interesting. You’re out here passing out copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, tell me about that? Why are we doing this?
Drew Devitt: First of all, we’re from Philadelphia, so we get away with it.
Matt Register: [crosstalk 00:05:47] passing out cheese steaks might be just as good, right?
Drew Devitt: Harder to do, and not as meaningful. I think we were voted the best swag at the show here, giving out the constitution. People really like it here, in Texas.
Matt Register: Yeah. No doubt about that.
Drew Devitt: I’m certainly a fan of it, too. I think, certainly the country could use to look at Constitution because it’s something the Democrats and the Republicans ought to both value and appreciate.
Matt Register: Well, sometimes it gets in the way of politics, though, right?
Drew Devitt: Right, well, it shouldn’t though. Our founding fathers really thought that the Declaration and the Constitution were going to be a way to maintain our Republic, but we’ve kind of forgotten that we live in a republic. Almost everybody calls it a democracy, even the teachers are calling it a democracy nowadays, but really it’s a republic.
Drew Devitt: Our founding fathers studied the ancient Greeks and the Romans. They had something called Greek political circles, where you’d start off with a republic and it would degenerate into a democracy, and then it would become a theocracy, and then it’d be an oligarchy, and it would be authoritarianism, and then there would be totalitarianism. Finally, the people would get so tire of that, they’d throw it off and have a revolution.
Matt Register: And start all over again, right?
Drew Devitt: That’s where the word revolution comes from, is the Greek political circles. Our founding fathers said we’re going to stop that business. We’re going to create a constitution that will keep us as a republic. I think, if we all paid attention to the constitution, we’d be able to stop this degeneration-
Matt Register: Sure, and we haven’t gone all the way around, but we’re starting to sway away from that republic side, right?
Drew Devitt: Just the fact that people don’t realize that we live in a republic.
Matt Register: Sure.
Drew Devitt: We live in a democracy. I mean, democracy is basically mob rule. Without a constitution, 51 percent of the people want to enslave, the other 49 percent they can. It’s very unstable.
Matt Register: Absolutely, and I tell you what, I think it comes across over the generations, over the years, where the constitution is standing away from individual politics that somebody wants to do. They make some adjustments, and over time all of the sudden it’s not quite the stabilizing document that it started out as, correct?
Drew Devitt: Right. I know here, at this show, we’re all about revolutions and spinning devices, but the constitution was really meant to stop our society from going around that circle.
Matt Register: How do we turn back the clock on that? How do we stop the creep that we’ve started going around the circle? How do we turn that around?
Drew Devitt: I think, if people realized that there’s basically two ideas. Either you have a right to your own life, and you’re responsible for your life, or you get what you should get from the government, and you have a duty to the government. Those two basic ideas, you need to come down in one camp or the other.
Matt Register: Free stuff, right? That’s where, you know as soon as people realize they can get free stuff and get votes, that changes, right?
Drew Devitt: That’s one of the problems with politicians trying to give away free stuff that really doesn’t belong to them, but-
George Walden: Free is never free.
Matt Register: I get it, nope, and I don’t disagree at all. What’s the easiest way for somebody to get in touch with you, if they want to learn more? About the constitution or about air bearings, either one, right?
Drew Devitt: Well, if you’re interested in air bearings, both the New Way Bearings website, or the Bentley bearings website.
Matt Register: Okay.
Drew Devitt: Which is specific for this industry, and if you’re interested in the American Revolution, check out the Thomas Paine website, Thomaspaine.com.
Matt Register: Okay, interesting, and the New Way website is Newwayairbearings.com. Well have both of them linked right there, from Texasbsuinessradio.com, if you’re driving and can’t take notes. Interesting stuff, Drew Devitt, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of New Way Air Bearings, and Bentley Bearings. Thank you very much for joining us.
Drew Devitt: Thank you, Matt, George.
Matt Register: Unfortunately, we’re completely out of time. We’ll see you next week. We got to go get smart on something else, guys. We’ll do that, bring you a whole new show next week. Same time, same place, guys. We’ll see you then.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.