New SEW-Eurodrive factory geared towards modular drive development

24th May 2022 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Drive systems company SEW-Eurodrive is focusing on localising its modular drive concept for a variety of industrial drive applications for the power generation sector in an effort to meet urgent local needs and harsh conditions with improved lead times.

National sales and marketing manager Jonathan McKey says the company’s expanded local capability from its new Johannesburg South Aeroton facility will include the assembly of its latest X.e Series industrial gear (IG) units; modular air-cooled condenser (MACC) units; and standard, variable speed drive and servo-driven gear motors.

This is in addition to customer-specific drive-train packages that, for the power industry, include conveyor, cooling towers and ash drives; girth-gear solutions; fans, pump drives and other purpose-built modern and modular solutions.

SEW-Eurodrive states that its latest derivative of its IG range – the modular X.e Series units – is now more robust, reliable, efficient and easier to maintain than its predecessors. Significantly increasing the number of possible torque/speed combinations and fine-size graduations, enables solutions to be custom-built to match client specification.

Additional modular features and options include motor adapters, integral and load sharing backstops, and various sealing and shaft systems. SEW-Eurodrive says these add to the ease of use and reliability of X.e Series drive solutions.

“Conveyor drives in the power industry are often required to operate in extremely dusty and very hot or cold conditions. Due to the new thermally optimised housings, along with the contact-free taconite sealing system, these drives offer excellent reliability under these conditions,” McKey notes.

The X.e series offers an enhanced choice of gear unit sizes, reduced gear unit weight and sufficient centre distances. In addition, when the drive needs to be operated at low speed, for example during maintenance, the drive package can be equipped with a directly-mounted slow speed auxiliary drive to advance the system while the main drive is switched off.

The new X.e range is also ideal for girth gear applications, where the new generation units are commonly used with SEW-Eurodrive’s segmented mill drive solution.

Meanwhile, MACC drives from SEW-Eurodrive are purpose-designed for driving modern fan-based air-cooled condenser (AAC) systems used in steam-driven power generation plants to generate significant air flows to cool and condense exhaust steam from turbines.

“Our MACC drives have specific optimisations to make them tailor-made to best suit these applications,” explains McKey.

These include a stiffer case with built-in cooling veins for improved cooling and SEW-Eurodrive’s internal extended bearing distance system, which better enables the gearbox bearings to accommodate high axial and radial forces transferred through the fan and the drive shaft.

“We have also built in a maintenance brake so that when servicing is required, wind from the outside can be prevented from turning the fan and the main shaft, making the boxes easier to maintain in-situ,” he says.

Further, to make replacing AACs easier for plant operators, SEW-Eurodrive builds customised adapter plates to enable its design to be easily retrofitted as a direct replacement for any older-generation boxes currently in use. “We also customise the output shaft length to perfectly match the ACC infrastructure on site and to establish the ideal fan position for maximum efficiency,” says McKey.

The company states that the typical lead time for imported large industrial gearboxes by most gearbox original-equipment manufacturers can range between 18 and 24 weeks.

However, SEW-Eurodrive’s assembly plant, once complete and operational, will be able to assemble most common modular designs locally at capacities of about three to five units a week.

In terms of electric motors, SEW-Eurodrive offers units ranging in power from 90 W to 375 000 W, and in efficiency classes IE1, IE3 and IE4.

“Our IE3 DRN motors have now replaced our IE2 range, and we can now also supply premium efficiency DRU motors which meet IE4 efficiency requirements, if requested,” he says.

All of these motors are directly compatible with SEW-Eurodrive’s modular approach to drive packages, either in combination with an industrial gear unit – as directly coupled to a helical or bevel-helical gear unit or as part of a complete drive package on a base-plate – or fully incorporated into a gearmotor unit.

In a clean and static-free area of the new factory, SEW-Eurodrive’s inverters, controllers and other electronic systems will also be locally assembled. These are designed to control the speed, torque and application-specific functions of drive systems.

“Local assembly of these modular systems demonstrates SEW-Eurodrive’s commitment to being part of solving South Africa’s long lead supply problems, while also attracting business from across the world from those experiencing long delays in meeting urgent needs,” concludes McKey.