Episode 13 of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast
In this episode
How do your orders come, and
Superfinishing of gears
Welcome to the thirteenth episode of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast. You’re listening to Damian Harris, coming to you from Melbourne on Monday, May 7, 2012.
If you have any comments, complaints or criticism, contact me on twitter @ozptpodcast or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I invite you, like I do every show, to go to the show’s website at www.australianptpodcast.com. It is simple, but it’s also straightforward and honest.
*The ownership of Australian and New Zealand SKF Distributorship has changed hands, with Ohio-based Applied Industrial Technologies purchasing the business from SKF direct.
Applied is a specialist in MRO industrial supply, with four and a half thousand employees and turnover of $2.2 billion.
In Australia, SKF has operated with a hub and spoke distributorship philosophy. Many of the branches carry the bare minimum of stock and the main distribution centre carries the bulk. I wonder if there will be any change in business model with the purchase.
*The 2012 Hannover Fair saw ABB launching what they claim to be the world’s first IE4 efficiency motors, in a size range of 75kW to 375kW. ABB is using the term ‘super-premium’ for this new range of 3 phase motors, claiming they are best suited to S1 duty, where a reduction in CO2 results from higher efficiency.
*Modest by comparison with Hannover but still substantial nonetheless, Mach 2012 at the Birmingham NEC took place in mid-April and received positive reviews. Manufacturing in the UK is in the same boat as many of the world’s developed nations, struggling with high wages, decreasing exports and an ageing workforce. I am a strong believer in conferences of this nature having a constructive outcome.
*Japanese motor manufacturer Nidec is digging deep into its pockets to purchase the Italian motors and drives manufacturer, Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali, or (ASI). The money involved for the purchase is thought to be in the region of $400M - $500M.
Among Nidec Corporation's primary products are ultra-high-precision spindle motors for hard disk drives, whilst ASI boasts a full suite of industrial motor manufacturing technology, making it an attractive acquisition for Nidec.
The purchase moves Nidec into new markets and product ranges, with ASI manufacturing motors right up to 25,000kW, in low and medium voltage.
*Meanwhile, Ametek Corporation is purchasing the German motion control outfit, Dunkermotoren GmbH, subject to German government approval. Dunkermotoren is presently owned by the venture capitalists Triton, whose industrial investment stable includes Dematic and Stabilus.
Amatek has an annual turnover of more than $3 billion, and while the Dunkermotoren acquisition is for an undisclosed sum, the Bonndorf firm is on track for 2012 revenue of $200 million. Dunkermotoren, who last July themselves acquired London’s Copley Motor Systems, is a specialist in automation using servo equipment.
*The failure of Australian car components manufacturer CMI Industrial has resulted in Ford having to shut its production lines and send workers home for a week.
CMI – who manufacture a range of components including suspension and exhaust parts - appointed McgrathNicol as administrators last week, as the firm struggled to pay its debts as and when they fell due.
The Toyota Production System and Just In Time have become universal in the automotive manufacturing world, as evidenced by the announcement by CMI, which was followed the next day by the announcement of Ford’s shutdown. Only one day, how LEAN can you get?
For the purposes of full disclosure, one of the CMI businesses is a customer of mine in my day job.
*Brazilian electric motor manufacturer WEG markets the W22 IP65 and W21 IP55 series of motors the world over, and has added to this with the W22X range of flameproofs. Aimed at the mining industry with a range starting at 160kW and going through to 1500kW, the W22X has been dual ATEX/IECEx certified for suitability in all markets.
*A recent report by market analyst Frost & Sullivan claims that the European market for integrated motors and drives will expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.1% over the seven years 2010 to 2017, from $285 million to $633 million.
This analysis makes sense, especially when you consider that governments the world over are looking to mandate increased motor efficiency levels and yet leave loopholes open for integrated units. WEG’s recent Cestari purchase, combined with SEW-Eurodrive, NORD, Bauer and a whole host of American manufacturers will look to continue the push for integral units as planned redundancy also results in greater returns.
*Operating in a sales firm, orders come through in many ways and via many channels. Obviously the telephone still constitutes the bulk of B2B communication, although email has standardised with the new generation of workers. It is important that customers can find you in the way they want to, which constantly changes.
Email and faxes are used for ordering, quotes, a wealth of standard communication and placing your footy tips. They serve as a way of creating a hardcopy confirmation of things already said, much in the same way that the postal service used to. But how did we get to the current state of play?
Many of the old technical catalogues from power transmission and gearing manufacturers feature contact information with something called a telex on it. The telex predates the fax, looks like a typewriter and works like a typewriter mixed with a pianola. The telex service in Australia was made fully automatic in 1966 and became the de facto standard for hardcopy B2B communication, holding sway for around 20 years, before the fax took over.
Electronic Data Interchange (or EDI) has also become a standard ordering system in major businesses, streamlining two-way information flow and limiting the scope for error.
All of which leads me to a new business, amazonsupply.com. The Seattle-based e-commerce business, famous primarily for book sales and its Kindle e-book reader, purchased Small Parts back in 2005. Small Parts supplies medical and scientific components, and is being used as the springboard of the amazonsupply.com business.
As far as the majority of listeners of the podcast are concerned, amazonsupply.com features a dedicated power transmission section, with Bearings, Springs, Sprockets, Belts, Couplings, Unis, Pulleys, Gears, Shafting, Linear Motion, Gearboxes, Chains, Vibration Control, Lubricants as well as Brakes & Clutches all covered under their own heading.
Key features of amazonsupply.com are a product listing of over 500,000 items, a free 365-day returns policy, free two day shipping for orders over $50.00 and a dedicated customer service centre. My American friends will have to tell me how good their customer service centre performs.
eBay stores have existed for a while, without radically changing the face of industrial supply. Web 2.0 has facilitated greater business on the internet, but by necessity this only applies to equipment which can be considered commodities. Specialist power transmission equipment requires specific knowledge of design requirements, with its inherent subtleties. Amazon is a little more aggressive with its outlook and will be looking to control as much of the vertical supply chain as possible.
*Gears in industrial geared motors go through a few processes before being ready for action. After being cut and heat treated, added life and strength is gained from finishing. It is this gear finishing that I am interested in.
Most manufacturers have arrived at precision grinding as the best way to add strength in a cost-effective manner for volume applications. The process basically involves using an abrasive to reduce high points on the tooth face. Overcoming friction is one of the key requirements of the tooth finishing process, ensuring lubricant is given enough scope to do its job properly.
Critical or high-performance applications such as aerospace, motor racing and power generation require gears that can handle the required torque, but do it with higher efficiency and less heat. There is one finishing technique called isotropic superfinishing that is well worth following up on.
The best way to summarise the process is to read verbatim an article by Lane Winkelmann, Paul W. Niskanen & Bruce D. Hansen, which is courtesy Gear Solutions magazine, June 2008.
“The isotropic superfinish is produced in vibratory finishing bowls or tubs. An active chemistry is used in the vibratory machine in conjunction with high-density, nonabrasive ceramic media. When introduced into the machine this active chemistry produces a stable, soft conversion coating on the surface of the metal gears being processed. The rubbing motion across the gears developed by the machine and media effectively wipes the conversion coating off the “peaks” of the gears’ surfaces, but leaves the “valleys” untouched.
No finishing occurs where media is unable to contact or rub. The conversion coating is continually reformed and rubbed off during this stage, producing a surface smoothing mechanism. This process is continued in the vibratory machine until the surfaces of the gears are free of asperities or until the surface attains the desired level of finish. At this point the active chemistry is rinsed from the part and the gears are dipped in rust preventive.”
Isotropic superfinishing carries the claim by its proponents that it can increase gear capacity by 30 percent, whilst simultaneously increasing durability by a factor of 3.
Superfinishing is not a cheap undertaking and is not suitable for everyday manufactured gearboxes, however it would appear that it is getting more popular and may become standardised as manufacturers look to squeeze more performance out of smaller applications.
Thank you for listening to the thirteenth episode of the Australian Power Transmission Podcast.
I’m Damian Harris and I appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to tune in. I invite you to tune in again in two weeks.