Wood Products Manufacturing
Smart GearboxAdam Soder, Olivia Martin
The gearbox is a critical component within individual operations. The conveyors that run 24 hours a day rely on the gearboxes to convert speed and torque into motion. Without proper maintenance, regardless of the gearbox design, the useable life of the gearbox could be significantly shorter than desired.
Many of the larger facilities have hundreds, if not thousands, of gearboxes in operation and there are not enough maintenance technicians to perform the required oil replenishment. Companies often decide to refrain from performing any kind of maintenance to the equipment in order to save on cost and time. The cost savings is only short-term. The lack of lubrication will cause the gearbox to fail prematurely.
This provides a new opportunity to develop the gearbox technology, Smart Gearbox, that essentially advises when the maintenance is needed to avoid costly downtime. With the Smart Gearbox technology, downtimes can become aligned with the set schedule that has been proven profitable for customers.
The Sumitomo Cyclo Reducer is unique in the use of the eccentric cam and Cyclo disc arrangement. This revolutionary design provides quiet, efficient, and reliable performance exceeding that of involute tooth gear designs.
The facility selected for this case study has a very large installed base of Sumitomo Cyclo products. There are approximately 300 units in operation at the location and roughly 20 "unique" units that are the same Cyclo frame size. Each one of these units is installed in applications that vary greatly in regards to loading criteria, run time, duty cycle, etc. Eight of the gearboxes were tested 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a length of 12 months. This allowed for gearbox vibration, gearbox temperature, ambient temperature, motor amperage, and motor frequency to be tested for all climate conditions throughout the year.
The vibrations produced by the gearbox would then trigger an alarm (audible, visual, etc.) in a PLC system (or similar) indicating the deterioration of the unit. The user would have the capability to create a system using color-coded levels to monitor the equipment. The specifics of the monitoring system would be completely up to the customer in how they would like to use the data being recorded off of the reducers.
The Smart Gearbox technology would make reliance upon estimations, and the costly consequences, a thing of the past. The potential for a Smart Gearbox provides time and cost saving solutions. Many different facilities, in a variety of proactive industries, are becoming more reliant on maintenance to keep their equipment running optimally. The ability to anticipate downtime allows the maintenance staff to prioritize its resources accordingly with the Smart Gearbox technology.