The evolution of industrial gearbox design

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For reasons related to the environment, cost of ownership, reliability and anticipating future regulations, gearbox efficiency is a priority for both manufacturers and end-users. From Danfoss bauer industrial gearboxes to Heynau gearboxes, industrial  gearboxes of all models, shapes and sizes have come a long way over the years. While gearboxes are made of up several fundamental essential components, namely gears, bearings, shafts and housings, various elements influence the gear characteristics.

Gearbox design may have been significantly modified over the years, but one component has remained the same – the reliance on bearings.

From Sferax linear bearings to Amt linear bearing and just about any kind of bearing you care to mention, bearings are essential in the design of industrial gearboxes. Not only are bearings a requisite component of gearboxes, but they have been cited as possessing the ability to improve gearbox performance.

According to a paper titled ‘How Bearing Design Improves Gearbox Performance’, Gear Technology highlights how the optimisation of bearings can considerably improve the performance of industrial gearboxes.

The document states that whilst gearboxes, by nature, are efficient assets, losing just 1 -2 percent efficiency per stage, in order to optimise different parts of the gearbox, it is important to “use and understand the latest knowledge and models regarding bearing friction.”

Identifying the source of friction of every point of contact the bearing has inside a gearbox is important in improving the overall efficiency of the gearbox, urges Gear Technology.

The paper uses the example of SKF which is 2003 published a new bearing friction model. The model was based on several different sources of friction – total frictional moment, rolling frictional moment, sliding frictional moment, frictional moment of the seal and frictional moment of drag losses, churning, splashing.

“Since the model looks into every single contact (raceways and flanges), changes of design and surface improvements can readily be taken into consideration, rendering the model better able to reflect improvement in SKF bearing designs,” writes Gear Technology.

Non-linear yielding elements

According to Evolution SKF, the first step in approving overall gearbox design is to assume that bearings are non-linear yielding elements and that shafts are flexible. This, states Evolution,” enables the “deflection line of the shaft and the influence of both shaft and bearing deflections on the resultant forces on the supports to be considered.”

Asides bearings playing a critical role in more efficient gearbox design, lightweight materials and compact housings is also a key factor in optimising design and efficiency.

The use of lightweight materials and compact housings is a feature of high volume gearboxes of low to medium power. In such cases, an optimised design is important for product competitiveness,” says Evolution.

As technology advances the standard of technically-based products increases and none more so than with industrial gearboxes. Whether it is a crowned tooth gear coupling or a Sferax linear bearing, the development of internal components are contributing considerably to the evolution of industrial gearboxes.

If you have any questions related to any make or model of industrial gearbox, bearings or other components, get in touch with YB Components, specialists in industrial parts.