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Esslingen-based Bauer Gear Motor (Germany) has a proud history. The compa-ny, which is now a part of US-based Altra Industrial Motion, was founded back in 1927 by Wilhelm Bauer, the inventor of the geared motor. This has been the company’s core business activity up to this day. “Our drivetrains are used in myriads of applications,” says Raghavendar Kuberan, Director of Gear Technology at Bauer. “We provide application-specific solutions for a wide range of industries. You will find our geared motors used in all industrial applications where materials are moved. The spectrum covered is really huge.” Bauer is a hidden champion in this specialist business.
When asked what the company’s recipe for success is, the gear specialist replied: “We concentrate on top level performance when delivering electromechanical components, e.g. couplings and transmissions.” Typical users include the metals industry, the food and beverage industry, crane technology, bulk material handling technology, water and sew-age engineering, textile machinery or the chemical industry. The company is able to create far more than one million geared motor versions, based on the Bauer 2000 modular system. “Fast, reliable deliveries are just as much a hallmark of our business as our in-depth industry knowledge. When we make a drivetrain for the food industry, it of course has to comply with local regulations and standards – for example hygiene regulations. Our experts can guarantee that.” Only engineers, who have specialist core business knowledge, work in Sales.
Mechanical production in Slovakia
Bauer manufactures its large geared motors in Esslingen (Germany), the smaller drives being produced at the facility located in Zlaté Moravce in Slovakia. One particular feature of this production location is the in-house winding room for electric motors. “That makes us considerably more flexible compared to our competitors”, Head of Marketing Philip Crowe explains. In any case flexibility is one of the other ingredients in the above-mentioned recipe for success. The electric motors are combined with helical gears, parallel shaft gears, bevel gears or worm gears. Very different materials, such as aluminium or grey cast iron, are used, depending on the required application. However all versions are manufactured on one production line.
Bauer’s production concept has enabled it to halve average production time per workpiece down to five days since 2012. Inventory, retooling times and “work-in-progress” have been significantly reduced, while improving customer delivery reliability at the same time.
As far as production is concerned, Bauer attaches the utmost importance to quality. In terms of upgrading the machine park at its plant in Zlaté Moravce, potential suppliers had to meet three key criteria – “quality, flexibility and availability”. Raghavendar Kuberan opted for two Liebherr LC 180 gear hobbing machines, which can be used for worm wheels and to pre-machine and finish wheels and shafts. “Prior to making major investments, we always clarify our requirements in advance with suppliers. However to make that happen, the communication has to work, and suppliers need to have the relevant know-how and the ability to manufacture products of excellent quality. Particularly where premium-quality machinery is involved, it is vital that the experts on both sides carefully coordinate their procurement-process activities.”
This comprehensive customer-focused package of machine, technology and software makes gear production much, much easier for us
Operation using the new LHGearTec interface
Visual displays and animations in the new LHGearTec user interface guide machine operators intuitively through the menus. Even complex procedures can be simplified by displaying graphics when data is entered. Furthermore the smart LHGearTec control system checks all the necessary data inputs to ensure they are plausible. Data entry errors can be avoided through the use of an online conformity check that includes a visualisation detail.
“We wanted to work with fit-for-the-future software from the very beginning,” gearing expert Kuberan explains. The new software controls user guidance for process and retooling cycles, is touch-screen-operated and provides graphical input support. Additional documentation, like e.g. drawings, measurement diagrams, instructions and work schedules can easily be incorporated. The smart LHGearTec user interface monitors data input by operators. Functions can very easily be activated or deactivated with the aid of control buttons. They work like apps on a smartphone and facilitate a wide range of user-defined settings. Applications running in the background help operators with data entry.
“This comprehensive customer-focused package of machine, technology and software makes gear production much, much easier for us,” says Kuberan in summary.