The modular principle of SEW-EURODRIVE’s gearboxes is central to the company’s promise to customers, allowing it to deliver greater flexibility in its solutions. Modularity means more possibilities to select the optimal solution while prioritising cost-effectiveness and quick lead times.
By simplifying its configuration of components, the company’s modular design delivers the flexibility required to achieve technically unique innovations with parts that are readily available and cost effective.
“Our modular design allows the same part to be used in different sizes of gearboxes, which facilitates more economic production and less investment in stockholding,” explains Andreas Meid, head of Engineering at the company. “By streamlining the number of parts required for a product range, this also allows improved component availability and turnaround time.”
For instance, modularity gives the company’s standard gearboxes a high degree of adaptability, so they can be run in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, says Meid. The customer therefore only needs a single housing in stock as it can be used vertically for an application such as agitation or horizontally for a conveyor system. The majority of the parts are then interchangeable across various applications.
SEW-EURODRIVE Johannesburg sales manager Jayson Jackson points out that most of the gearboxes’ pinion shafts would be suited to the specific gearbox size range, while the gear wheels would have more flexibility to be used in different size gearboxes.
“This principle has allowed the production of fewer specialised parts while still giving customers access to a wide range of options when developing a solution to their requirements,” says Jackson.
Modularity also has positive impacts for the manufacturing process, which create benefits for customers in the form of cost control and availability of stock. Bruce Farthing, project engineer at the company, notes that production of components can be streamlined to improve efficiencies, lead times and masses.
“This also means we can focus our innovation efforts on a more limited number of parts, making a greater technological impact,” says Farthing. “Moreover, the modular principle makes the assembly of gearboxes simpler across a range of applications.”
He refers to a recent example of the flexibility of SEW-EURODRIVE products, when girth gear was installed for a mining customer. The girth gear configuration requires two gearboxes – one which is orientated to a left-hand application and the other which is right-handed.
“This is a critical item of equipment for the plant, so the customer needed on-site spares,” he says. “Due to the modularity of our design, the mine needed to only hold one set of spares as our universal housing range can be adapted to either left-handed or right-handed use.”
Jackson says the company’s range holds similar benefits for conveyor applications. Where a customer has multiple conveyors on site, they can minimise the spares inventory as the housing can be inverted to operate on either side of a conveyor. He notes that the modular design also creates useful flexibility in the servicing of gearboxes.
“If a customer calls us when an input shaft assembly is damaged, for instance, we can conduct a pre-assembly in our factory before delivering it to site,” he says. “The mine technician just needs to do a quick changeover instead of having to break the gearbox down to the bearings and gears.”