Gearing and mechanical power transmission, in its fundamentals, remains virtually unchanged. However, innovative variations are becoming increasingly common and include more custom gearing, compact designs, and better gearboxes and servo-gear sets.
Manufacturers are offering designers more customized solutions via more in-house engineering resources, simplifying the design process. More custom solutions also means greater integration with other components in a design, better connectivity and fewer compatibility issues.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, business has changed in many ways across the board for many industries. Gearing and mechanical power transmission is no exception. Manufacturers are reporting a rise in new applications. For example, Bonfiglioli, a manufacturer of gears and gearmotors and other mechanical power transmission components, notes that they have seen an increased demand for factory automation and electrification of off-highway machinery.
They have been able to supply many different types of solutions from the gearbox to the motor and inverter or control system. They’ve even often developed unique gear motor solutions which offer the OEM a more compact, efficient and reliable package. They’ve’ even crossed platforms by using rotating case gearboxes often found in wheel or track vehicles being applied in industrial environments for cranes and hoists. Other unique applications include tunnel boring machines, energy kites, large platform AGV’s, and most importantly an automation application for mass assembly of COVID-19 test kits.
The company also has developed gearing for high-load robotics applications. Their TQF series flange-mount servo planetary gearhead features high positioning accuracy, high compactness, high tilting moment and overload capacity. The backlash is as low as 3 arcmin and has extremely high torsional stiffness. The gearhead fits perfectly in applications with high dynamic load changes where precise positioning is still required.
Gearing and gearmotor manufacturers continue to make improvements in efficiency as well. In fact, most gearmotor manufacturers are continuing to improve electric motor efficiency per regulations. As Bonfiglioli sees it, motor regulations are fine for direct drive applications, but when applied to a system, the regulatory governing bodies need to also take the overall performance into consideration. That’s why the company takes a complete view of the customer’s machine and necessary performance and applies the product that best meets the requirements combined with the total cost of ownership.
At the same time, with the increased interest in IoT and automation among manufacturers, gearmotor manufacturers are adding capabilities to support these functions. For Bonfiglioli, their new EVOX gearmotor and AxiaVert VFD/Servo combo features advanced digital and open communication protocols complying with automation and industry 4.0 standards, including a wide range of fieldbus protocols and OPC-US protocol.
Plus, their new AxiaManager software can be accessed using a mobile device app or Bluetooth module for an enhanced user experience. The most crucial innovations are condition monitoring and predictive maintenance which are included in every model. The system collects gearmotor data and analyzes it using algorithms to provide real-time results. The available measures are gearmotor residual useful life, lifetime/wearing prediction, gearmotor duty-cycle monitoring, trend analyses, energy monitoring and optimization and many more. A dashboard is also provided to visualize the data in real-time in order to diagnose problems quickly and create alerts.