The sugarcane industry is one of the most flourishing segments of the Brazilian Economy. With a production of up to 624 million metric tonnes of sugarcane in the 2017 harvest season, the country holds the world record production for both sugar and ethanol from this raw material. A broader view reveals that more than 37 million tonnes of sugar and 27 million cubic meters of ethanol were produced to meet national and expanding global demand.
A virtually rotational-symmetrical component may have an unbalance caused by production tolerances or non-homogeneous structure in the material. Such unbalances in a drive system can not only lead to considerable vibrations during operation, but, in the long run, can also lead to failures of individual components or even of the entire drive system. As speed constitutes one of the decisive influences here, balancing is always performed for a certain speed. As a general rule, this is the nominal speed of the drive system.
Company-owned balancing machine in Neunkirchen, Germany
Designers of plants and machines strive for the optimal selection of a coupling for the complete system with many variables requiring consideration. In most cases the main focus is not how maintenance-friendly the product is. Yet – one might say. For a sustainable improvement of the longevity and efficiency of plants, a stronger involvement of maintenance is a must.
Especially in narrow spaces, couplings can only be inspected visually, because the coupling is hardly accessible with conventional measuring devices. Atypical operation noise or vibrations are generally the first signals that there is something wrong with the coupling.
Maintenance and repair: Characteristics of gear couplings, steel disc couplings and (highly) flexible couplings
Couplings are not the most critical part of plants but they have to meet continuously changing requirements. Being reliable, efficient and robust is no longer enough – they should be easy to maintain in order to reduce costs and to avoid downtime. So for choosing the right coupling its characteristics in regard to maintenance and repair are playing a more important role.
Couplings in drive lines are of particular importance because they transmit power between the input and output side, and compensate for inevitably occurring misalignments of the units. Like other machinery elements, couplings need to be serviced at regular intervals. Only if the coupling is optimally tailored to the requirements of the operating conditions and subject to regular maintenance, can it contribute to ensuring the operating reliability and efficiency of a machine or plant.
Maintenance is a key factor determining manufacturers’ success since it ensures preferably smooth operation. At the same time service and repair are significant cost factors. We wanted to get a more detailed picture and started researching. Some of the most relevant findings:
"The challenge to develop a highly flexible coupling is to design a coupling which has a particularly soft characteristic curve", explains Norbert Telaar, Head of Strategic Product Management at RINGFEDER POWER TRANSMISSION, the main task of his team. In the end they developed an innovation in coupling design.