Food and beverage processing facilities provide big challenges for OEMs and machine component manufacturers.
Factory-automated machines and conveyors have two basic modes of operation: running efficiently and earning money verses down and unproductive, losing money. Equipment downtime costs factories from 5 – 20 percent of capacity each year, according to Intech magazine.
Several components are culprits for maintenance and down time that is so expensive to U.S. factories: bearings, belts, chains, wiring, electric motors, and yes– gearboxes.
Gearboxes are high wear items, transforming power from electric motors (high speed, low torque) to the requirements of the load application (lower speed and higher torque). There is a general assumption in power transmission: “Speed is cheap, torque is expensive.” Using motors to generate high torques required by many loads (direct drive technology) is typically much more expensive than generating the torque with a motor/gear reducer combination.
Gearboxes can be used creatively to eliminate other mechanical components, such as bearings, belts, chains and pulleys. Possibilities are limited only by designer imagination and various geometries of the gear reducers.
Any time we convert power from one state to another, losses occur in the conversion process, generating unwanted heat and wasting energy. “Power out” is always lower than “power in.” In the case of a gear reducer, rotational power is converted from high speed/low torque to low speed/high torque. Energy losses are primarily from friction in the gearing, bearings, between the seals and shaft surfaces. Oil turbulence also causes losses.
Superior gear reducer efficiency is achieved by high efficiency gearing, such as helical, bevel, and spur gearing. Premium lubrication reduces friction in all internal moving parts. Premium quality bearings– roller, ball, or cylindrical– also limit friction losses.
High-efficiency gear reducers have many benefits. They reduce the heat generation, which prolongs a gear reducer’s life increasing the application reliability and reduced cooled space cost. Superior gear reducer efficiency also decreases total machine cost by allowing the use of smaller motors, and reducing energy consumption. Environmentally, efficiency means a reduced carbon footprint and lower electrical power consumption.