Local agitator order a world first for global drive engineer

WELCOME RESPONSE The pre-sales launch of the X.e agitator in April at the Hannover Messe trade fair, in Germany, was well received by industry

JARROD FUTTER South Africa is one of the countries that is willing to push the adoption of newer technology at a rapid pace

EARLY ADOPTER The tough African mining environment will be the first to put SEW-EURODRIVE’s new X.e series to the test

13th October 2023

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor


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Drive engineering specialist SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa has secured the world’s first order for its new X.e series agitator unit, launched in July, from a participant in the South African mining industry.

The order for nine X.e agitator drives was placed in early August. The units are expected to arrive from Germany early 2024 for installation at a greenfield project being developed in South Africa.

“This is something that we are very proud of. SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa has also been one of the leaders in promoting the adoption of the company’s more advanced technologies in Africa and, fortunately, in this case South Africa itself. The customer in question is also very receptive to adopting new technology,” SEW-EURODRIVE engineering manager Jarrod Futter tells Mining Weekly.

The tough African mining environment will be the first to put SEW-EURODRIVE’s new X.e series to the test. Despite being seen as an emerging market, South Africa is one of the countries that is willing to push the adoption of newer technology at a rapid pace, he advances.

“Our clients are always willing to take that leap when we introduce new technology because they know they have our support. We are a favourable supplier of agitator units in Africa.”

The X.e agitator drive was selected by the customer above the other top agitators supplied by the company owing to its feasibility points as well as its other beneficial features.

The simplified design of the agitator has the added benefit of helping the customer streamline some of its designs, which is a massive plus point, as it afforded the mining operation a further capital saving.

The X.e series comprises three sizes, with the mining customer opting for the middle of the range option – the X.240e.

“This unit has engineered bearing loads, which still accommodates high radial loads and forces for specific agitating applications. The housing is also equipped with various filters to accommodate operation in a dusty environment. You have the required extended bearing distance, as well as a dry-well, which is very specific to agitation and ensures that there's no potential for oil leaks into the substance being mixed.

“While our customers demand pressurised lubrication on industrial gear (IG) systems, the X.e series comprises an internal lubrication system. Therefore, when handling the unit on site, you don’t have any piping that can be damaged or compromised, making the overall design more robust,” explains Futter.

He emphasises that each unit in the range offers the same modular benefits, differing only in terms of their torque capacity and radial loads.

The X.240e has nominal torque of 165 kNm and a shaft diameter, according to bearing type, of either 260 mm for moderate and heavy duty or 270 mm for heavy radial duty. The smallest of the gear units in the range is the X.220e, which has a nominal torque of 117 kNm. This unit has a shaft diameter of either 240 mm for moderate and heavy duty or 250 mm for heavy radial duty. The largest unit, the 217 kNm X.260e can be supplied with a shaft diameter of either 280 mm for moderate and heavy duty or 290 mm for heavy radial duty. All three units have a wide ratio range spanning a multitude of finely designed increments.

“Depending on the size requirements or the substance the client is physically mixing, they'll supply us with loadings forces that the unit will be required to withstand, and then from there, we can select the correct solution for their application,” says Futter.

While these units are currently not being assembled locally, he expects this to change in future. The new technology is based on technology already being assembled in-country and uses common parts. Therefore, SEW-EURODRIVE will be able to use its existing stockholding for servicing and parts supply.

“Our X series of industrial gear units became the X.e series following the introduction of further efficiency gains on various components and technology improvements. The main specialised part is the housing, so when sourcing any component for the units in the range, these are readily available through our extensive multimillion-rand stockholding,” elaborates Futter. Many components locally stocked already make up portions of the X.e agitator.

Many African companies demand a fast turnaround when sourcing parts and dislike the idea of keeping considerable stock on site, as this practice ties up capital that could be applied for other purposes.

The ease of securing stock from SEW-EURODRIVE also limits downtime, improving productivity, when the time comes to conduct maintenance of the X.e series. With maintenance top-of-mind during the design phase, Futter says the housing includes many logical and thoughtfully designed features that enables components to be easily accessed during maintenance. This was in addition to ensuring that the design of the housing was as robust as possible.

“A digital twin was used during the design phase of the X.e series, which not only dramatically reduced design time but also cost. The engineers used finite element analysis (FEA) software to simulate the forces being exerted on the unit when in operation to reflect real-life loads and outcomes. This allowed the designers to push the unit further on the FEA software before conducting destructive testing on a physical unit.”

SEW-EURODRIVE can also apply the digital twin to design units to meet the exact operating conditions of specific applications, ensuring that the unit specified has been built according to a customer’s exact requirements.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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