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Bauer gear motors make a splash at US theme park



Robust IP68-rated motors solve reliability problems on popular water ride.

Boat rides are a perennial attraction at theme parks around the world. The formula is simple, but effective: passengers start their experience dry, and a relatively sedate pace. By the end of the ride, they have been soaked by spray, thrilled by rapids and – usually – terrified by a seemingly impossible plunge.

At one large theme park located in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA, the climax of its popular boat ride is a 15 metre vertical drop down a 24 metre long chute into a plunge pool. Thrills along the way include scenery that appears to burn and crumble before passengers’ eyes.

The progress of the flat-bottomed boats through the ride’s canal system appears to be magical. In practice, or course, motion depends on sophisticated mechanical and electronic control systems, mainly hidden beneath the water’s surface. Around 100 photo sensors distributed around the ride monitor the progress of boats, and 30 or so submersed, powered, rubber wheels propel them from point to point along the route.

During the early years of the ride’s operation, however, its hidden propulsion system proved to be an Achilles heel. Due to water ingress, the original geared motors driving those wheels were failing within 6 months of operation, requiring the ride to be shut down while replacements were installed. In fact, technical problems meant the ride was closed for almost half of its first peak season – frustrating for customers who were prepared to queue for up to two hours to experience its thrills.

Eventually, the theme park’s owners decided enough was enough. Their search for a more reliable solution led them to Bauer Gear Motor, part of the Altra Industrial Motion Corporation. Bauer’s engineering expertise and highly efficient, modular designs made it a perfect partner for the ride’s propulsion system. Furthermore, with many years of experience supplying gear motors to the water treatment industry, Bauer’s products are proven to be reliable in fully submerged applications.

Chris Macock, Project Manager for Bauer in the US, comments: “After suffering multiple failures it wasn’t surprising that the park owners wanted to find a reliable alternative. Each period of downtime resulted in unhappy customers, lost revenue and maintenance costs – which you don’t expect in a ride’s first season.

Having conducted a site visit to understand the environment in which the gear motors would be located, we were confident that we could supply a solution that would keep the ride operational throughout the year.”

The motor selected to replace the failing units was from the Bauer BG series. These compact, economical gear motors use high-tensile cast housings and can be configured to produce torques of up to 18,500 Nm. They comply with major North American and international technical standards, including NEMA, IEC, CSA and CE.

The modified BG50 units supplied for the water ride feature IP68 gearbox sealing, shaft seals with stainless steel springs and V4A stainless steel output shafts. A WIMES (Water Industry Mechanical and Electrical Specifications) compliant coating was also added to provide an extra level of corrosion protection.

The theme park operator is very pleased with the Bauer solution: there have been no BG Series failures due to water ingress after more than four years of service. Furthermore, while they may not be aware of it, the ride’s customers are pleased too: the enhanced reliability of the Bauer gear motors means they get the thrilling ride they were hoping for on their big day out.

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Optimised design for IE3 asynchronous motors



NORD has optimised the design of its proven IE3 asynchronous motors. The model maintenance applies to numerous details that further improve the electric motors´ function, assembly and operation.NORD has optimised the design of its proven IE3 asynchronous motors with numerous details that achieve a better assembly and cooling.

 The facelift of the IE3 asynchronous motors from NORD DRIVESYSTEMS involves no change of electrical data and outer dimensions. They can be seamlessly used without adjustments in any existing application with NORD IE3 motors. The optimised cooling fin shape, an assembly-optimised fan and a new modern fan cowl enable a better heat dissipation and assembly. The fan cowl can be simply assembled in case a motor-mounted frequency inverter is used. The new cooling fins design enables an unhindered airflow around the terminal box. The revised terminal box is without sharp edges and corners and has reinforced feet for a better motor stability. Another important detail is the optimised incremental encoder mounting. Due to the fan cowl, the encoder is fully shock-resistant and not within the airflow, which further improves the cooling power. Retrofit mounting is also possible due to a plug-on shaft.

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ABB gets ahead of the game for Ecodesign regulation



The European Union’s (EU) latest Ecodesign Regulation (EU) 2019/1781 came into effect in October 2019. This regulation sets new requirements from 2021 onwards for the energy performance of an expanding range of low voltage motors. For the first time variable speed drives (VSDs) are also included.

The aim is to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C. Hannu Vaananen, Head of Public Affairs, Business Line Motors and Generators, shares some insights on what this regulation means for industrial electric motors.

The detail

The latest Ecodesign implementation applies to low-voltage induction electric motors – rated at less than 1,000 V alternating current (AC) –  and variable speed drives (VSDs). While defining stricter minimum efficiencies, the regulation also expands the range of three-phase single speed motors covered from 0,12 to 1,000 kilowatt (kW). The same power range also applies to the drives. 

The regulation only concerns the efficiency of standard VDSs. To allow to maximize savings on system level, regenerative and low harmonic drives have been excluded. On the motor side Ex and brake motors are now in the scope of the regulation.

The regulation will be implemented in two steps with the first starting on July 1, 2021. The second stage, which expands the scope further and increases the requirements for motors, commences two years later, on July 1, 2023. Super-premium-efficiency motors (IE4) will become mandatory for three-phase motors with 2, 4, or 6 poles between 75-200 kW. 

What is the significance for industry?

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electric motors account for 40% of total global electricity consumption, while industrial motors account for 30%. Lighting, a far better-known culprit, weighs in at just 19%. Using electric motors that offer the highest levels of energy efficiency can therefore play a crucial role in containing worldwide energy consumption and in reducing CO2 emissions.

So how is ABB helping this all-important cause?

We have pre-empted the new regulation as we can already provide our customers with compliant motors. This also applies to our variable speed drives – including the ACS880, ACH580, ACQ580, ACS 580, ACS480 and ACS380 product lines – as well as motor types that were previously exempt, such as Ex motors, Totally Enclosed Air Over (TEAO) motors, and motors for 60 Hz networks. Customers can, therefore, buy our products with full confidence.  

One of the most affordable and effective ways to increase energy efficiency is to use VSDs in combination with high-efficiency motors. Our drives can reduce energy consumption by 30% to 50% by regulating the speed of, for example, the motor of a pump or fan. In extreme cases consumption can drop by 90%. 

When it comes to new regulations, it’s essential to be ahead of the game as it ensures that customers have future-proof products. This is especially important as, on average, projects can take three years to move from the planning phase to the active phase.

Saving energy is a highly effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money at the same time. That’s why we work with policymakers all the time to expand regulations that cover additional motors and drive systems. Our commitment is not only to our clients but also to a greener world.

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STOBER develops new generation of planetary gear units



The new generation of servo planetary gear units from STÖBER Antriebstechnik offers drives that are the most compact on the market in their power range and with their diversity of combinations and options. What’s more, any motor series can be directly attached in any available size. This variability allows STOBER to create the right drive solution for any application. In contrast to the prior generation, STOBER also equips the new planetary geared motors with an electronic nameplate, which makes commissioning controllers and drive controllers much faster.

STOBER has developed the third generation of servo geared motors, which are the most compact drive solutions on the market with their level of versatility. To achieve this, the lengths of the new gear units were significantly reduced. All STOBER motors, such as the EZ series or sensorless Lean motors, can be directly attached without an adapter, in any desired size.

Thanks to this compactness, the user benefits from a smaller installation space, lower weight, greater torque and a resulting power density that is increased by up to 65%. The mass moment of inertia is lower because the motor adapter is no longer needed, which allows the full dynamics of the drive to be used. This is a real advantage for the customer, particularly noticeable with small and medium sizes in shorter cycle times.

The new generation also features the highest backlash stability and ruggedness. The excellent housing and gearing quality ensure high acceleration torques as well as the highest running accuracy and precision at the same time. Users benefit from acceleration torques increased by 60%, a speed increase of 45% and an increase of the torsional stiffness by up to 50%.

Flexibility from the Motor Attachment to the Bearing System

The most impressive feature of the new generation of planetary gear units is its enormous variability. This means that not only are the gear units able to be combined with different STOBER motors via direct attachment, they can also be attached to all third-party motors in any size using variable adapters. The drive specialist offers a one-of-a-kind interface technology for this purpose. STOBER motor adapters are available with different couplings as well as in the ServoStop variant with an integrated brake. The adapters can also be combined with standard or reduced-play gear units. In particular, the large design of the STOBER adapter with an extra-large motor plate makes it possible to connect the most compact STOBER gear units with motors of very large sizes—a truly unique selling point.

Depending on the application, another advantage compared to the competition is that the right bearing can be selected, whether deep-groove ball, cylindrical roller or angular contact bearing. These low-friction bearings enable generally higher speeds.

Thanks to this enormous variety, engineers have all the options in the design phase to put together exactly the right drive solution for any application. A smaller motor to optimize efficiency? A smaller drive controller might go well with that—which also lowers costs.

Easier Commissioning Thanks to Added Electronic Nameplate

Another special feature of the new generation is the electronic nameplate. In combination with the STOBER electronics, every geared motor automatically sends its electronic, mechanically relevant data by plug and play to the corresponding drive controller upon commissioning. As a result, the geared motors are uniquely identified. This eliminates high-effort, error-prone parameterization, which shortens the total system configuration significantly.

STOBER will present the new generation of servo planetary gear units for the first time at the SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg, hall 3A booth 451 at the end of November. Sizes 2, 3 and 4 will be available from 1st October 2019, sizes 5 and 7 from 1st March 2020 and sizes 8 and 9 from 1st May 2020.

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