Many people are hesitant to invest in a Baldor-Dodge stainless steel gearbox. After all, these top-of-the-line gearboxes typically cost almost twice as much as cast iron, aluminum, or epoxy-painted gearboxes.
However, the newer generation of stainless gearboxes not only costs less upfront, but also saves you money over the entire lifetime of the gearbox—with less maintenance, easier lubrication, less downtime, fewer replacements, and longer lifespan.
“Stainless steel gear reducers are now more cost-effective than ever,” said Ben Hinds, a Product Manager for Baldor•Dodge at Baldor Electric Company. “This is important, because when customers think of stainless steel products, they often assume they can’t afford it before they even ask for a quote. They miss out on the long-term savings opportunities available to them.”
Many of today’s stainless gearboxes cost only 20%-50% more than the epoxy-painted or cast iron versions, and last a lot longer. They also solve a lot of the problems associated with standard gearboxes—such as rust, corrosion, bacterial contamination, and constant repainting.
“We often see a plant using stainless steel everywhere except the gearboxes,” Hinds said. “They have stainless steel conveyors, mixers, and machinery, but they try to save money on gearboxes and motors, which doesn’t make sense financially over the long-term.”
So when is buying a stainless steel gearbox a smart investment? Here are 5 good reasons to invest in stainless steel.
Reason #1—You are tired of repainting your gearboxes.
“I meet customers who say, ‘stainless steel is too expensive,’” Hinds said. “But then they repaint their gearboxes every week for the inspector, which gets very expensive.” Stainless steel stands up year after year to even the harshest environments—including chemicals, water, acids, ultraviolet rays, and oils—with very little maintenance.
Reason #2—You want your gearboxes to last longer.
One reason that stainless steel gearboxes cost less over the long-term is that you need to replace them less often for corrosion or failure. It’s much less expensive overall to buy 1 gearbox that costs 20% more—than 2-3 cheaper gearboxes in the same timeframe.
Reason #3—Your gearboxes work in a “wet” environment.
Stainless steel gearboxes are specially engineered to perform in “wet” environments—such as food and chemical processing plants, where you have high-pressure washdown on a daily basis. “When you buy a stainless steel gearbox, it’s sealed, gasketed, and plugged to protect from washdown,” Hinds said. “It’s designed to keep water out of the gearbox. The vast majority of gearboxes simply are not designed for washdown.”
Reason #4—You don’t want paint chips or rust getting into your product.
As epoxy-painted gearboxes age, they shed paint chips and rust particles—which is not good for your customers. “A meat processor that I worked with had a customer find paint chips in their meat,” Hinds said. “They had to shut down the line for several days to figure out where it was coming from. It was coming from an old epoxy-painted gearbox. They lost a lot of productivity, and almost lost the customer too.”
Reason #5—You want to reduce bacterial contamination.
If you work in food processing, meat and poultry, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, or chemical processing, then you know that bacterial contamination is a big deal. The newer generation of stainless gearboxes—such as the Baldor•Dodge Quantis Ultra Kleen Gear Reducer, or the Ultra Kleen Tigear-2—are designed to prevent bacterial contamination by using a rounded housing design without a breather. This prevents water from pooling in the gearbox, and protects the lubrication inside. (Some even come pre-filled with H1 food-grade lubricant, like the Ultra Kleen Tigear-2.)
“Fully stainless steel solves so many of the problems associated with standard gearboxes, that it really is a no-brainer,” Hinds added. “Stainless easily outperforms cast iron, epoxy, and even aluminum in these environments. It’s a worthwhile investment.”