Q&A with Tuan Ton

Senior Application Engineer at Regal Rexnord

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As gearboxes continue to get smaller, the challenge is to keep them from getting weaker. What is Regal Rexnord doing to ensure small gearboxes perform optimally?

New technology and development allow us to increase the torque density of each new product. An example is when we switched the heat treatment from through-hardening to case carburized and ground gearing. That made it a lot more torque dense.

Another example is the use of dual peening, which is a mechanical surface treatment that helps improve the fatigue strength of the gearing.

A third example is the use of special software to determine what tooth profile and lead modifications are required to optimize the tooth contacts under load.

We require an EP additive in the lubricants and certain viscosity requirements in order for the gearbox to withstand the higher torque ratings that we have.

But, with smaller gearboxes, the thermal concerns become a bigger issue.

Why are customers wanting smaller gearboxes?

Mainly, it saves them money. The smaller the gearbox, the less raw material that’s required to build that gearbox. So, it does save costs, and then we can pass the savings on to the customer.

A lot of these applications have space constraints of where the gearbox will fit. A smaller gearbox always has an advantage over a larger one in that respect. And, for the customer, the supporting structure of the gearbox comes into play. If it’s a smaller and lighter gearbox, they need less structure, which again saves them cost and space and is a benefit to them.

What types of gearing solutions do you offer that are designed to meet your customer’s needs?

We have a lot of products starting with the V-Class, which is offered as a parallel and right-angle option. You can foot mount it or shaft mount it, and it has a torque rating of up to almost 10 million inch-pounds.

The V-Class has a competitive advantage in that it is the first, and as far as I know, the only one that offers a fully self-contained oil-to-air, heat-exchanger-based cooling solution, which is a fancy way of saying the V-Class has a thermal accessory called the DuraPlate that is sized to fully cool the gearbox. What we mean by that is the gearbox can fully realize its mechanical potential in any condition with the DuraPlate cooling device. That cooling device is self-contained, which means it doesn’t require the customer to plumb any external electricity or water to it.

We also have concentric options with the Planetgear 7000, Planetgear SMP, and Ultramax. Bauer and Ultramite units are available for low-torque applications. Quadrives are a great solution for low-torque, shaft-mounted applications. And we have many more.

Customers sometimes have specific challenges. What goes into satisfying those challenges?

For my team, we work on the quoting for gearing products. Some examples would be when the customer is looking for a drop-in replacement for an obsolete gearbox, whether it’s ours or a competitor’s. We can review the ratings and the dimensions of the current drive and try to offer a drop-in replacement — or as close to one as possible. That could also include a transition base, so the base-to-center distance remains the same, they can reuse their foundation holes, and have minimal changes required for their application.

A second example would be when their current drive is failing. We can help them try to figure out why that is and come up with the correct solution that’ll work for the application.

And a third example would be, we’ll often get specifications with a request for a quote, and we engineers can review the specifications and try to provide a solution that can meet all their important requirements. Sometimes they’ll have really conservative requirements, so we can work with the customer and see if those requirements are actually necessary to help them save money.

I think our rating practices are more accurate than our competition. We don’t have to cushion things as much because we have a better understanding of how our products will perform in customer applications, which allows us to really right-size things, which, in some cases, can be a big impact to the customer, especially when it comes to cooling.

Why is it important that customers get the right gearbox for their applications?

You can have failures associated with oversizing the gearbox. It’s not like it’s just the safe bet. You can have skidding-related bearing failures from an excessively oversized gearbox. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to have the right answer.

You and your manager, Robin Olson, wrote a white paper on how to specify a gearbox and what to look for. What were some of the key takeaways from your research?

We showed that understanding the application and getting the right information is extremely important. The proper service factor will determine whether the drive will perform reliably. Being too aggressive can mean you have a short life with your gearbox. Being too conservative can be costly. It’s best to stay with standard offerings as much as possible to be economical and have shorter lead times. 

MORE INFO  www.regalrexnord.com