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Making gearboxes smarter

09 April 2020

When a gearbox on a critical application fails, it can be a scramble to get it up and running again.

Even when a spare is available, production will inevitably be lost and there will be a race against time to get the failed gearbox repaired and reinstalled so that the spare is available again should another gearbox fail.

Of course, when specifying a new gearbox, companies now have the option to select one equipped with advanced technology. A bit like a modern car can tell its owner everything from when its tyre pressures are low to when it needs its next service, modern gearboxes can be even more advanced.

However, when heavy-duty industrial gearboxes can have life spans of twenty years or more, it could be a long wait for the opportunity to specify new gearboxes bristling with the latest smart technology. Renold Gears, however, has an interim solution. It is offering its Oil Quality Sensor (OQSx) that can easily be retrofitted onto existing gear units that will, in effect, make an old gearbox a smart one.

Additionally, the OQSx can be easily installed on any application and has been robustly engineered for maintenance-free operation. It provides real-time monitoring either as a stand-alone technology or it can be connected to control and display systems such as PLCs, smartphones or tablets. It is certified to more than 15ppm sensitivity, detecting all wear and contamination elements, second-by-second in all oil types.

As about 75% of all gearbox failures are the result of oil contamination, the OQSx has been designed to reduce maintenance, cut downtime, and the overall cost of ownership. It increases reliability and performance by monitoring the condition of the oil continuously, and reporting early signs of problems, allowing immediate action to be taken.

It optimises service intervals by predicting when maintenance will be needed, without affecting equipment performance or reliability. It also cuts expenditure on expensive lubricants and the need for waste disposal because the gearbox oil is changed only when needed, based on a precise knowledge of its condition. 

It effectively turns an old gearbox into a smart gearbox and, for a relatively small investment, the payback is enormous. What’s more, it’s good for the environment too.

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