Pinion-less Planetary Drives Revolutionizing Sugar IndustryBy Paloma Duran | Fri, 08/06/2021 - 15:08
With an ever-growing focus on productivity, the sugar industry is transitioning to high-efficiency pinion-less planetary drives to achieve efficient milling amid increased competition. The solution reduces energy consumption, maintenance costs, stress on mill components and extends component life.
Significantly, the change represents a shift away from conventional steam turbines with open gears to foot-mounted planetary gears. A key actor in this transition has been Reggiana Riduttori. The company specializes in the design and construction of planetary gearboxes for industrial machinery applications and played an important role in developing shaft-mounted planetary drives that reduce energy consumption during extraction and improve milling performance at crushing, extraction and maintenance rates.
Sugar cane milling plays a fundamental step in the production of sugar. It is the process that consumes the greatest amount of energy. Over the years, there have been innovations like foot-mounted technology that have improved flexibility and reduced power consumption. However, it still represented a great loss of power due to the crown pinion, coupling and stress on the headstock.
Foot-mounted mill gearboxes are attached to the mill via a rope coupling or a tail rod. The rope coupling allows better flexibility in the event of misalignment and they are better transmitters than tail bars. This has drastically reduced energy consumption, in addition to reducing maintenance operations. However, the crown pinion transmission is less efficient and generates a significant stress impact on the headstocks. In foot-mounted single-gear systems, a gearbox takes all the load and inertia, causing slower performance and high inertia that increases the stress on the gears. In addition, there are limitations on the size of motors and gearboxes, making it difficult to find them and their spare parts.
Reggiana Riduttori saw this problem as an opportunity to develop more efficient, easy-to-maintain and low-cost milling solutions. In the cement industry, shaft-mounted gearbox technology has been used for 20-25 years with positive results. The company decided to introduce the same idea in the sugar industry, especially the shaft-mounted technology for cane milling. What makes the Reggiana Riduttori offering unique and functional is that it requires no foundation, pinions or couplings.