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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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Specifying geared motors to reduce HACCP risk factors



Geared motors are found throughout food and beverage production sites, used to drive conveyor belts, stirrers & agitators, packaging machinery and other equipment along the production line. The geared motor design lends itself to energy efficiency and reliability, a must for any modern production facility. However, the food & beverage industry also requires strict hygiene compliance, meaning that specialised geared motors are a wise choice for such facilities.

Markus Kutny, Director of Sales Vertical Markets for Bauer Gear Motor, a premier brand of Altra Industrial Motion Corp., examines how specifying geared motors in stainless steel design or specialised finishes can help reduce HACCP risk factors.

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is an internationally recognised method for reducing risk factors in the production or processing of food. It works on the principle of on-going improvements, encouraging manufacturers to continuously re-evaluate each of the processes in its production line to identify possible hazards and minimise risk. The primary purpose of the system is to protect people from food-borne illness, though it is also recognised as a ‘best practice’ approach to improve quality and consistency in the final product.

Understanding the importance of the processes surrounding the analysis of risk in the production line helps to explain the evolution of geared motor technology used within the industry. Specifically, it explains why the industry requires that geared motor manufacturers invest in R&D for aseptic solutions – developing specialist coatings and even stainless steel variants of their latest products.

Bauer Gear Motor Washdown

Aseptic drives deliver all the benefits of a standard geared motor, while also protecting the drive during harsh washdown cycles and preventing the build-up of microorganisms.

Aseptic drives are designed to deliver all the performance benefits of a standard geared motor, while also protecting the drive from harsh washdown cycles and preventing the build-up of microorganisms. Drives are typically painted using acid- and alkali-resistant coatings that can withstand chemicals with a pH range of 2 – 12. These drives will also usually offer high levels of ingress protection and be designed with a smooth exterior to prevent dirt build-up.

The HiflexDRIVE range from Bauer Gear Motor is an example of geared motors with design evolutions specifically aimed at improving performance in hygiene-critical applications. The range is carefully designed so that fans and cooling ribs are not required, thereby allowing for completely smooth outer casings with non-drive ends that are sealed. This allows the IE4 super-premium-efficiency motor to be offered with up to IP69K rating – which protects against high-pressure washers and steam cleaning. The elimination of venting elements creates a smooth outer surface, which provides a higher cleanability of the motor casing and prevents re-infection of the local environment caused by air movement from a cooling fan.

While specialist coatings perform exceptionally well when correctly applied and maintained, there is always a risk that the coating could become damaged while the motor is in operation. Should this happen, then the contamination resistance of the geared motor would be reduced. Adopting the principles of HACCP, many manufacturers are choosing to specify stainless steel geared motors where they are likely to be operating in an area with risk of mechanical damage.

Bauer Stainless Steel Motor

Stainless steel geared motors meet all of the regulations set out by organisations such as the FDA and NSF without the need for specialist coatings.

Stainless steel geared motors – as found within the HiflexDRIVE range – meet all the regulations set out by organisations such as the FDA and NSF without the need for specialist coatings. As a base material, stainless steel is inherently resistant to corrosion and chemicals, even if it has been scratched or dented after suffering an impact.

For manufacturers or packaging specialists looking to minimise HACCP risk factors when specifying geared motors, there is no question that it pays to choose a specialist solution. The HiflexDRIVE range is available in three sizes ranging from 80 Nm to 330 Nm in standard, aseptic and stainless steel designs; with power ratings up to 6.3 kW depending on the size selected. A two-stage gearbox design allows ratios of up to 109:1, depending on gear type, and allows a wide range of applications to be covered.

Whether the application would benefit most from a stainless steel design or an aseptic coating depends on the sort of working life it will be exposed to. Our engineers help customers to assess their environments and provide expert guidance on the most appropriate choice with consideration to efficiency, reliability, risk and long-term cost saving.

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From another Point of View



STOBER presented the new generation of its servo planetary geared motors at the SPS IPC Drive in Nuremberg at the end of 2019. One of the special features of this generation: Each motor series can be directly mounted in any available size. With this variance, STOBER offers ready-to-install drive solutions for machine tools and packaging machines as well as applications in automation and robotics. In order to ensure that the assembly of the new gear units remains efficient even with an increased variety of combinations, the specialist from Pforzheim relied “on digital” when planning the new production line and gained new perspectives through virtual reality.

With the third generation of its servo geared motors, STOBER has developed high-performance and precise drive solutions that are the most compact on the market in terms of versatility and convince by their enormous variance. The gear units can not only be combined with different STOBER motors in direct mounting, but also with all third-party motors of any size via a one-of-a-kind interface technology. A perfect fit for any application.

During the development of the new drives, the STOBER design engineers faced a wide range of challenges: Compared to the previous version, for example, the performance had to be improved and the components had to be built significantly more compact – at the same cost. A balancing act which STOBER mastered primarily by means of new production technologies and optimized assembly lines. “Especially the work and assembly planning, not to forget the optimization of the ergonomics at each of our workplaces, is one of the most important, but unfortunately also one of the most time-consuming tasks”, says Marc Schneider, team leader in gear assembly at STOBER. “Instead of building physical prototypes on the basis of our CAD or Excel data and modifying them again and again, we relied on virtual reality for the design and optimization of the assembly lines in advance”.

Virtual Reality as an agile development partner

With a VR tool by R3DT, a start-up based in Karlsruhe which STOBER chose, entire systems can be simulated as early as the conception phase. By means of VR glasses environments can be experienced one-to-one. A “simple” principle with great effect: 3D CAD data from workstations, for example, are imported into the VR software along with other relevant key figures and processed. At the push of a button virtual prototypes are ready to be used.

“VR glasses on and we are already standing in the virtual environment at the previously designed workstations. With our hands we can reach for virtual tools, check the screwing – without joysticks or other controllers”, Schneider explains.

Frequent testing allows design errors to be detected in good time; corrections in the design or even in the ergonomics of a workstation can be made directly – even in the early planning phase. For STOBER numerous aspects that needed improvement came to light before real prototypes were built.

The resulting real prototypes are very close to being ready for production. In addition to saving an enormous amount of time and avoiding costly subsequent modifications, Marc Schneider is pleased to be able to involve his co-workers right from the start.

“We are very motivated to make our everyday work more ergonomic. Another advantage is that the VR tool gives the entire team the opportunity to experience and learn about new technologies in early stages. In addition, we can now react more effectively in assembly to the ever-changing product mix that our customer requires. An exciting project!”

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Wärtsilä’s Data-Driven Dynamic Maintenance Planning solution optimises engine maintenance




The technology group Wärtsilä introduces its Data-Driven Dynamic Maintenance Planning (Data-Driven DMP) solution. This latest developed feature enhances the company’s existing Dynamic Maintenance Planning solution by utilising digitalisation and Wärtsilä’s extensive capabilities in analytics. It is an integral part of the company’s Lifecycle Solutions value proposition, and adds further customer benefits and value not possible with conventional DMP solutions.

Data-Driven DMP increases the uptime of assets and reduces lifecycle costs by optimising major overhaul intervals, without compromising operational reliability or engine efficiency.

Furthermore, assets are maintained in prime condition without the need for on-site visual inspections performed by Wärtsilä personnel, since the solution’s digital capabilities reduce the need for such on-site visits. Customer personnel can be trained to take fluid samples and to carry out borescope inspections of engines with remote support from experienced and specialised experts in Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres.

Leveraging the new capabilities and keeping the engines in prime condition eliminates the need for the usual opening inspection of the engine.

“Data-Driven DMP adds a new dimension to our Lifecycle Solutions’ value proposition, delivering greater flexibility and increased cost savings for the customer. Existing DMP contracts can be changed to take advantage of the extra benefits provided by Data-Driven DMP, should customers wish,” says Frank Velthuis, Director Digital Product Development, Wärtsilä Marine.

The technology for Data-Driven DMP is supported by Wärtsilä’s Expert Insight product, which enables proactive and rapid advice and assistance to be delivered to customers from the Expertise Centres. Expert Insight has been credited with taking predictive maintenance to the next level.

Wärtsilä’s Lifecycle Solutions offering is backed by a combination of the company’s extensive in-house know-how along with AI and predictive analytics. It takes a holistic approach to ensure sustainable and reliable operational performance.

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