The intricacies of gear-unit maintenance took centre-stage at the recent SIRF Roundtables (SIRF Rt) industry forum held in Melbourne early in December 2007.
The day-long best practice in gearbox maintenance common interest workgroup met to discuss the latest in maintenance best practice, and culminated in a site visit to the servicing and maintenance facility of drive solutions group, SEW Eurodrive, in Tullamarine, Victoria.
SIRF Rt, an initiative following on from the Strategic Industry Research Foundation industry group promotes the implementation of best practices throughout the manufacturing and process industries.
According to SIRF Rt’s convener of the Industrial Maintenance Roundtable for Victoria & Tasmania, Terry Blackman, these events are designed to bring industrial experts together to share business performance knowledge.
“We’re promoting best practice in maintenance, and that’s a moving target,” said Blackman. “This is a forum for group members to pick up on the best of what others are doing and implement it themselves.”
The morning’s discussions addressed fundamental gear-unit maintenance issues, such as lubrication management and filtration, reliability and installation issues, and advanced vibration and condition monitoring.
“Some of these companies aren’t just at the level of maintaining their equipment, but are exploring ways of maximising and increasing the intervals between maintenance,” said Blackman. “They’ve got their basics right and are looking at what they are going to do next to further improve reliability.”
Following the morning meeting, the afternoon centred on the SEW Eurodrive manufacturing facility in Tullamarine.
A presentation by SEW Eurodrive engineering manager, Frank Cerra, was followed by a comprehensive question and answers session.
Covering a range of industry topics, the participants clearly appreciated the opportunity to discuss industry issues directly with a leading OEM representative.
Clarification of OEM definitions of service factors was a high priority for discussion. Other topics included optional gear-unit features, non-standard lubricant options, serial numbers and traceability and the challenge facing maintenance personnel in obtaining adequate service manuals and parts lists.
As a result, there was significant interest in the demonstration of SEW-Eurodrive’s online DriveGate resource.
According the Cerra, “The website is important and is widely used by industry. It’s the main repository of parts lists, operating instructions, CAD drawings and support materials. And that’s there 24/7.”
At the conclusion of the presentation and discussion session, the group was taken through the SEW Eurodrive plant, and in particular, its comprehensive servicing and maintenance area.
The facility’s extensive tooling was evident, with a demonstration of a gear-unit being overhauled by SEW Eurodrive employees.
With considerable discussion aimed at achieving the best-practice target over the course of the day, the walk-around proved a good note to finish on.