Gearbox design cuts downtime with increased flexibility 

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A collaborative solution developed by gearbox manufacturer Apex Dynamics UK with its customer CA Group has created the additional flex needed in the gearbox setup of a converting machine to prevent parts failure and dramatically reduce maintenance downtime.

Building envelope manufacturer and contractor CA Group has praised the support it received from gearbox specialist Apex Dynamics UK to redesign the gearbox specifications in its converting machine, delivering much greater flexibility and dramatically cutting maintenance downtime. CA Group has been creating and delivering advanced build systems to developers for more than 30 years, and its products are featured on hundreds of buildings across Europe.

The company has a converting machine for the manufacture of steel sections for cladding containing a series of 20 Apex Dynamics spiral bevel gearboxes working together. CA Group’s maintenance team identified a problem with the previous setup, as the gearboxes were connected by a solid shaft all the way through, which did not allow for any flexibility of movement.

This flaw in the overall design meant that seals were under strain and often began to leak, leading to high failure rates. Additionally, if a gearbox failed or a seal blew out, it would result in 5-6 hours of downtime to repair the machine because of the difficulty of accessing the gearboxes in order to change them.

CA Group approached Apex Dynamics UK, which supported the CA Group team’s hypothesis that the solid shaft was not working well in the machine, identifying a clear need for more flexibility. Engineering teams from Apex Dynamics and CA Group worked together to come up with a new design that provides the flex needed to prevent parts failure. By developing a new coupling capable of flexing between short shafts, the collaborative project provided the damping needed between the gearboxes to cater for any misalignment of the base or face of the machine.

A new platform for the gearboxes to sit on has also been created for the converting machine by Apex Dynamics UK and CA Group that reduces downtime in the event of a gearbox failure. The base of the machine is no longer one solid piece, and so, rather than having to dismantle elements of the machine in order to change gearboxes, the platform can simply slide in and out to change gearboxes within 20-30 minutes, compared with 5-6 hours previously.

Prior to the new design, CA Group was seeing gearbox failures and seals blow every few months, which was proving very costly and time-consuming. Retrofitting the CA Group converting machine has been such a success that the company reports it has not seen any gearbox failures or seals blow in the more than two years since the new solution was implemented, and it has been gradually switching all of its machines over to the new configuration.

The use of Apex Dynamics AT170JH through-hole spiral bevel gearboxes in the converting machine provides CA Group with low backlash, high resilience from the robust stainless steel design, low noise, and excellent nominal torque. Apex Dynamics’ high efficiency, compact AT-H series of spiral bevel gearboxes are easy to mount, with one input shaft and a through hollow output shaft with a keyway to reduce backlash.

Commenting on the project, Apex Dynamics UK Northern Area Manager, Malcolm Hillary, who worked closely with CA Group, commented: “We were very pleased to be able to help CA Group find the correct solution. They came to us with issues surrounding gearboxes leaking and we confirmed their analysis of the problem. Working in partnership, we were able to successfully solve the issues of non-flexibility between the gearboxes and make the converting machine easier to maintain in the future.”

www.apexdynauk.com

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