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Three ways to make the most of your gearbox purchase

By |  September 9, 2020

Logo: Sumitomo Drive TechnologiesIn 2019, capital expenditures (CapEx) — or funds used to acquire, improve or maintain a company’s physical assets — for top mining companies grew by over 10 percent, reaching $49.billion. While gearbox spend can be about 3-5 percent of the cost of a typical mining application, they can often be the linchpin of the operation. Gearbox failure is not an option when keeping production running. To ensure your company will get a good return on investment (ROI) and turn those expenses into profit, follow these critical steps on the pre-commissioning, commissioning and post-commissioning of the machine set.

1. Use precision installation techniques with documentation

The Operating and Maintenance manual typically provided by the manufacturer gives the proper procedures for startup, operation and even long-term storage. Scott Arnett, National Aftermarket Operations Manager, says, “one of the most common forms of failure we see with gearboxes relates to misalignment, whether on the input or output side.” Misalignment can lead to preloaded bearings and seal failures and will severely reduce the life of your gearbox.

It’s vital to ensure motors are correctly installed using laser alignment equipment, and the final installation of the gearbox to the application is also done with some degree of precision. The larger the gearbox, the larger your investment, so protect this investment by ensuring it’s installed correctly.

In addition to installation, proper lubrication is key to extended life and reduced total cost of ownership. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended lubrication fill procedures and use the recommended lubrication and viscosity, be it grease or oil.

Photo: Sumitomo Drive Technologies

Photo: Sumitomo Drive Technologies

2. Have an effective asset management plan and condition monitoring plan.

There has been much research on gearbox failure and condition monitoring techniques. This failure can happen at any time and cause delays in production or other issues. Detection of impending problems is critical to preventing unplanned downtime. With an asset management plan, the operation can save money and time in maintenance by recognizing the damaged elements before facing unexpected shutdowns. Here are different ways to monitor your industrial gearboxes.

a. Oil Analysis 

This analysis test can reveal data on contaminants, lubricant conditions and machine wear. Contaminants can sometimes find their way into an industrial gearbox unit. These dirt, dust and process contamination particles come from a gearbox’s environment and are the leading cause of premature machine malfunction and failure.

Examining the lubricant condition can indicate if the gearbox needs servicing or that the unit can remain in service for a while longer. Things to test include viscosity and oxidation. Analyzing the unit’s oil condition can also reveal excessive wear. Because a malfunctioning gearbox can generate wear particles, the detection and analysis of these particles will influence the facility to make critical maintenance decisions sooner than later. Clean oil will minimize machine wear.

b. Noise Analysis 

Although noise analysis cannot diagnose all gearbox issues, using sound as a condition monitoring tool can provide helpful clues about a gearbox’s condition. Listening for abnormal sounds such as a higher sound level or clicking can indicate your gearbox needs maintenance soon.

c. Vibration Analysis

It’s a common belief that vibration is the number one leading indicator of the health of your gearbox. If you use vibration as an indicator, it’s essential to develop a baseline in order to understand if your unit is running correctly. Charting vibration across weeks or months can help you get out in front of potential problems. If you don’t have the resources to take vibration readings on a scheduled basis, consider installing any number of condition monitoring features to help you monitor the health of your gearbox.

d. Install a Condition Monitoring Tool

Through its simplistic interface, Sumitomo’s CycloSMART® offers a departure from conventional vibration monitoring devices. This Condition Monitoring device monitors industrial gearboxes with temperature and vibration sensors. With an intelligent, self-learning software, the system adapts to your application and identifies any divergence from regular operation.

Like these tips? Sumitomo has more in this quick guide on industrial gearbox inspection & maintenance.

3. Use a gearbox manufacturer with a strong aftermarket department.

Sumitomo Drive Technologies received interesting answers after surveying a pool of recent customers. When asked why they picked Sumitomo for their gearbox and speed reducer needs, 60 percent of customers chose the answer, “increased peace of mind.” Here’s why:

a. In-house Repair

Industrial gearboxes sent in for repair are returned to original design specifications with Sumitomo’s highly qualified engineering and service technicians. With full reverse engineering and a wide range of gear cutting capabilities, no gearbox is too big or too complicated for the team.

b. Quick Ship Program:

With facilities around the US building small and medium gearmotor products, Sumitomo Drive Technologies can guarantee same-day, 1-day or 2-day lead times. All standard Cyclo, Bevel BuddyBox Helical Bevel BuddyBox, Hyponic and Helical Shaft Mount units are eligible for the Quick Ship program, as are any parts in stock.

c. Emergency After-Hour Support:

Sumitomo’s Aftermarket team is available 365 days per year, including:

  • Basic gearbox troubleshooting and support,
  • Request for in-person assistance by a local Sumitomo representative,
  • Questions about maintenance, parts or other inquiries,
  • Ordering of additional parts, components or replacement gearbox, and
  • Live support to get your replacement gearbox as soon as possible

d. Warranty

Sumitomo products are built to last. The products are known among industry leaders as one of the best and longest-lasting drives available. Still, just in case, customers can have peace of mind with an included standard warranty on all Sumitomo products at no extra cost.

In order the make the most of your CapEx spending, strategically pre-plan your purchase, make the most of your investment, and choose the Sumitomo standard. Sumitomo has the parts and Aftermarket team to assist with any maintenance questions and gearbox needs. The company has provided innovative solutions and products to solve complex challenges for more than 140 years.

For more information about its products and services, please contact Sumitomo here.


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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