Episode 12 of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast
In this episode
Mechanical variable speed drive replacement
Thanks for joining me for the twelfth instalment of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast. It is Monday, April 23rd, 2012 and I am Damian Harris, coming to you from Melbourne.
With the Australian Power Transmission Podcast I endeavour to bring the latest happenings in the mechanical power transmission industry, as well as the issues that affect it. As time goes on I am going to interview some of the industry’s major players and bring you their thoughts about how see the future of their business.
I normally do the show every fortnight, but last week I went to the footy and really strained my voice. You can probably still here the remnants of the strain as I record this. I apologise for the delay, but as a North Melbourne fan we don’t usually defeat the reigning premiers so it was a day to remember. Don’t worry, it was back to earth with a thud this week as the Roos got thumped by Sydney. Oh well...
As always, if you would like to contact the show, the best way is by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I have received a few kind words of feedback as well as a few further pieces of information about stories that I have run on the show and I honestly appreciate them all. Also, the show’s twitter handle is @ozptpodcast so make sure to send me a tweet if you think it’s relevant.
*Bauer Gear Motor is opening an assembly plant in China, solely to service the domestic market. Now part of Altra Industrial Motion, Bauer is quick to point out that design and manufacture is still carried out in Germany and Slovakia, with the Chinese facility being opened to service its clientele which has uprooted manufacturing from Europe and the United States, as well as new business.
Bauer almost tripped over itself in making clear they are not moving production to China, whilst pointing the finger at those who have. China remains a dirty word, still, in the mechanical power transmission world.
*Without trying to have the Australian Power Transmission Podcast dominated by the Australian car industry, it is nonetheless well worth reporting that Toyota has gone through with the redundancies it flagged back in January for its Altona manufacturing plant. 350 positions are gone, which comes after Toyota refused a proposed bail-out from state and federal governments.
The main reasons given for the closure by Toyota are... you guessed it... the continued strength of the Australian dollar, as well as a reduction in domestic demand. The new Camry is in showrooms now but it looks like there is no going back to work for those shown the door.
*Wednesday, May 9 will see the National Manufacturing Week 2012 Conference take place, with innovation, sustainability and productivity gains the stated – if somewhat predictable – goals. Held during Sydney’s turn for National Manufacturing Week, May 8 to 11, the Conference features some of Australia’s manufacturing heavyweights.
Entry to the event will set you back $550.00 and for your money you will get to hear representatives from Boeing, Bluescope, Ontera Carpets, Siemens, Manufacturing Skills Australia and the CSIRO. Oh yeah, you will also get lunch.
*AGMA’s Board of Directors has a few new appointees. Joining the Board are Steve Janke, President of Brelie Gear Co; Dean Burrows, President of Nixon Gear; Mark Michaud, President of REM Surface Engineering and Jan Klingenberg, Chief Executive Officer of the Klingenberg Group.
Outgoing Board members are Robert Phillips of Gleason Cutting Tools; Kyle Seymour of Xtek and Jim Bregi of Doppler Gear.
*One thing I find intriguing about the US political system is the weight that lobbyists carry; undoubtedly backed up by the finance that supports them. Political Action Committees or PACs become the face of the lobby, arguing for particular issues with political candidates. In short, money equals speech.
The National Association of Manufacturers has applied to start its own PAC, with a view to furthering its four-point plan for economic growth and jobs, namely:
· The United States will be the best place in the world to manufacture and attract foreign direct investment
· The United States will expand access to global markets to enable manufacturers to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders
· Manufacturers in the United States will have the workforce that the 21st-century economy requires, and
· Manufacturers in the United States will be the world’s leading innovators
These four points are, I’m sure, the goals of every developed, manufacturing nation on the planet. As we all know, a goal without a plan is just a dream. I suppose having representatives in Congress who support manufacturing is one step closer to reaching this goal, but how many political candidates are opposed to manufacturing?
The NAM understands that business also foots the bill for health care costs in many cases and is one of the most difficult challenges facing manufacturers. Structural issues like this are where manufacturer PAC money is inevitably bound to find itself.
Semi-related is the news that The Manufacturing Institute (which is the 501(c) affiliate of the NAM), has announced that it has named Jennifer McNelly president, beginning in April.
*The ink is still drying on the rubber stamp that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave to Amcor’s purchase of Aperio, but Amcor remains restless in the M&A field.
Amcor has bought into the Mexican packaging market, spending $40 million for Aluprint, a specialist in the tobacco-packaging field.
*Meanwhile Huhtamaki has picked up Hong Kong food service packaging manufacturer Josco for 67 million Euros. Josco’s two manufacturing plants in China are well-positioned for Finnish Huhtamaki to continue expansion efforts in the region.
*While the dust settles on recent General Motors investment decisions both in Australia and Europe, Mitsubishi Motors has decided to quit the European manufacturing landscape altogether. Mitsubishi currently produces the Colt and Outlander in the Netherlands at its Born facility, but low sales have forced management to consider the loss-making enterprise’s future. 2012 will see the last cars roll off the production line.
What to do with the plant once Mitsubishi production comes to an end is probably the biggest question mark to be decided. When Mitsubishi closed its Tonsley Park assembly plant in Adelaide, it was left with a similar dilemma. Eventually selling the site to the South Australian government, it is currently in the process of being turned into residential housing. The Born factory may offer a Korean auto manufacturer a walk up start, considering Mitsubishi took it over from Volvo in the mid 90s.
* The month of May in Indiana is famous for only one thing, the Indianapolis 500. 2012 will be the 96th running of the event.
The people at Reliable Plant 2012 would like Indiana in May to be famous for two things now, as their 13th conference is taking place on the first to the third.
Okay, a pretty weak segue, I’ll grant you, but this conference looks like it’s worth attending. The conference itself is fully loaded with key-notes and there is a good depth in the exhibition list.
Plus, I suppose you can hang around until Memorial Day.
*Next, I have a brief round-up of some staff movements that have been brought to my attention. I’ll probably do this once every couple of episodes, so please send me information if you would like me to tell the world. email@example.com.
Parvalux has announced that it has promoted its Sales Director, Nick Spetch, to Managing Director. He was also formerly Sales Director for RS Components.
Parvalux is based in UK’s Bournemouth, with agents and distributors across the globe, marketing a full range of AC and DC geared motors.
From Europe to America, and Regal Beloit-owned Durst of Clinton Wisconsin has appointed Scott Filzen to the role of Engineering Manager. With an MBA and a degree in mechanical engineering, Durst’s press release is glowing of Filzen and the increase in scope he will bring to the role.
*Electronic variable speed drives continue to get more and more sophisticated, with multiple I/O functionality, theoretical full torque at low RPM capability, immediate feedback and data logging all becoming available in lower-priced versions as new models are introduced. It has been interesting to see developments in the field and I am certain that the learning curve is going to continue, mirroring Moore’s Law, where computing capacity doubles every 18 months or so.
Yet while electronic VSDs look to upscale the smarts, mechanical speed variation still has a role to play in the power transmission landscape. Mechanical VSDs such as the Reeves belt variator or the SEW version can deliver full load torque all the way down to – in many cases – zero RPM, and full horsepower all the way from midpoint speed through to maximum drive RPM. They really are an intriguing piece of hardware that has been around for many decades and whilst replacing them has been straightforward in many cases, in others there are some things that must be considered.
When replacing a mechanical variable speed drive with an electronic version, it is not enough to simply replace the unit with a similar capacity motor and gearbox, because the electronics cannot deliver the low end torque that a belt variator can. Instead, an idea of the actual load must be gathered at its lowest speed, and work backwards from there.
I have done a few of these mechanical to electronic VSD retrofittings and each time, the size of the electric motor input has had to basically double to achieve an outcome similar to what was there before. A lot of the issues arise due to the starting torque capacity of mechanical belt variators, which are similarly matched to the motor capacity at 225%. Electronic VSDs usually have a starting torque capacity of only 150%, creating problems.
Mechanical belt variators continue to do the heavy lifting in applications such as wastewater treatment, the cement industry and bulk food mixing. In many cases electronics can assist, with ease of operability and functional repeatability the main drawcards. Obvious negatives such as cost are continually being negated as the technology filters through, making electronic VSDs the first choice for new applications but also forcing users to look at replacing belt variators as the need arises.
Thank you for tuning in to episode twelve of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast. Please contact me if you have anything that you think I should know about from the vast mechanical power transmission industry.
I’m Damian Harris and I will catch you in two weeks.