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8 questions to ask yourself before replacing a gearbox

By |  August 26, 2020

Logo: Sumitomo Drive TechnologiesThe time has come. This specific gearbox has possibly been around before you started working at your facility. It’s frequently having issues like mechanical failures and needs more maintenance than your team has time to complete. The CAD drawings might be missing, or the manufacturer is no longer in business to replace the gearbox or components if you wanted to.

If this situation sounds like yours, it may be time to replace your gearbox. Before you do, ask yourself these eight questions and read the Gearbox Replacement Planning Guide from Sumitomo Drive Technologies before replacing your gearbox.

1. Are you happy with the performance and life cycle of your gearbox?

Technology has changed drastically in the last 20 years. Gearing and gearbox components are no different. Efficiencies in gearing and motor performance have improved, seals and seal materials are better, synthetic lubrication can extend life dramatically, and condition monitoring can keep you from shutting down unexpectedly. Would you take your 20-year-old Ford or Chevy to the dealer and ask them to replace it with that exact year and model? Probably not, so why do that with a gearbox that could make or break your operation?

2. How often are you replacing this gearbox?

If you are replacing a unit more than once every two years, ask yourself why. You may be reluctant to invest in some applications and environments are tough, but a poorly selected or engineered gearbox is still costly. There are always solutions that can increase your gearbox’s life and decrease the total cost of ownership. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.

3. Are there safety concerns with your current setup?

If you have belts, sheaves, sprockets or other exposed components driving your machinery, chances are they can be safety hazards. Simpler is usually better, and in this case, simpler means safer. Look for shaft-mounted options that can reduce these exposed safety hazards and reduce maintenance in the process.

4. Is your operation changing, and is the demand on your production being impacted?

If you are like many production facilities, your original equipment is being pushed to its limits. Refer back to question #2, but also ask yourself if your gearboxes are up to the same challenge and demand you may be facing from your management. More with less, or more with the same – if this is the case, you need solutions that can withstand more than what they are designed for while keeping your operation running. With proper sizing and selection, you don’t have to pay extra for this peace of mind.

Photo: Sumitomo Drive Technologies

Photo: Sumitomo Drive Technologies

5. Do you need the flexibility to increase or decrease the speed?

Running an application slower or faster, or frequently starting and stopping, seems like easy actions. As long as your gearboxes and motors are rated and designed for this, chances are it is not a problem. However, few people ask the right questions when simply replacing a gearbox. Explore your options before replacing like with like.

6. Is the unit you are replacing easily replaceable, or are parts readily available?

“The unit is on the shelf.” We hear this a lot, but we also hear, “it’s going to take 20 weeks to get that part.” Make sure you ask the right questions when replacing a unit. Is it made domestically? Can you get parts quickly? Where are those parts stocked? Is this an obsolete unit? If it’s a newer model, will it drop into the same footprint?

7. Is this gearbox supplied by a stable, reputable company with local support?

This ties hand in hand with question #6, but make sure you know where the support is coming from. Distributors are great and will support you, but those distributors often rely on the manufacturer to be the expert and support the product they manufacture. Stability in a manufacturer is more important now than ever before, so before you pull the trigger on replacing that gearbox, make sure you know who will be supporting you in a time of need.

8. Is this application critical to production?

If the answer is yes, chances are you know how much it costs every minute you are down. Again, with technology today, you don’t have to sit by and wait for your gearbox to start making noises before you react. IIOT and Condition Monitoring equipment can alert you when small changes begin to occur and will help you make better-informed decisions to keep you running longer. If you are changing out a gearbox, it’s a perfect time to consider adding condition monitoring to your asset management plan.

Are you ready to replace your gearbox? Sumitomo Drive Technologies has the engineering experts, local support and customer service that your application needs. The company offers the rugged and resilient gearmotors and speed reducers that perform in severe operating conditions. Add that resilience with Sumitomo’s Condition Monitoring tool, CycloSmart, for even more benefits. That component will keep your downtime at a minimum – saving you thousands. Know that you’re in good hands with Sumitomo.

Need some more proof? Sumitomo’s Regional Sales Managers Don Brady and Jim Huffaker obtained a combined cost-savings of more than $140,000 for their customers who switched to Sumitomo.

You likely already have a list of the critical requirements and possible enhancements you desire in your new gearbox. Let Sumitomo help you centralize and gather your thoughts and requests for your particular application’s needs.

Download and complete Sumitomo’s Gearbox Replacement Planning Guide to help you organize your gearbox needs. These questions will act as the foundation of any discussion and make the process a breeze.

About Sumitomo Drive Technologies

Sumitomo Drive Technologies has been trusted by many to provide quality products and innovative solutions to help our customers solve their complex challenges. This rich history has made us a leading manufacturer of power transmission and control products such as gearmotors and speed reducers for a wide variety of applications for leading brands around the globe. For more information about our products and services, please contact us.


Logo: Motion Industries

Motion Industries is a distributor of maintenance, repair and operation replacement parts and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genuine Parts Co.

Learn more about the industrial solutions company here.

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