How to Select the Right Gearbox for Your Application

By IBT Inc

May 25, 2022

IBT

Selecting a gearbox that is the most cost effective and optimal for your application can be quite the challenge. From power transmission to motion control to servo, each industry has its own diverse requirements. To avoid choosing a more expensive gearbox than needed or an insufficient gearbox that will underperform for your application, read on for key considerations and a breakdown of the most common types of gearboxes.  

Key Considerations for Selecting the Right Gearbox 

To help you find a gearbox that will address your system’s unique needs, we’ve put together the following guide that will help you understand the most common criteria that applies to almost every application. 

Service Factor 

First things first — when assessing your system’s gearbox needs, you’ll first want to determine the service factor. This is a crucial step in the process and is typically determined by your application’s required value over the rated value of the unit. Conditions impacting your service factor should also be taken into consideration, and usually include things such as a non-uniform load, hours of service, elevated ambient temperature, frequent starts or stops, and extreme vibration. 

Wondering how you can interpret a service factor? Most often, this comes down to different factors that will affect the application and the manufacturer’s specifications; however, a good rule of thumb is that a service factor of 1.4 is generally appropriate for most industrial applications, as it has more tolerance for additional requirements before the gearbox would overheat or fail. The 1.4 indicates that the gearbox can handle 1.4 times the application requirement. Choosing the right service factor can make all the difference between a unit that performs properly and one that is in constant need of repairs. 

Ambient Temperature & Environmental Factors 

Then, you’ll want to consider the ambient temperature and environmental factors that will affect your gearbox. Ambient temperature is measured in degrees Celsius and is the maximum that a motor can operate at while still being within the tolerance of the insulation class. The higher the temperature, the more likely it’ll increase the service factor used. Requirements in seal materials and lubrication are different between high and low temperatures. 

To ensure your gearbox is able to support your application properly, you’ll also need to account for the environment that it’s in, as environmental factors may require special materials, such as corrosion-resistant paints and stainless-steel housing. It probably comes as no surprise that harsh environments can increase the wear of your unit, especially when special considerations aren’t taken into account. For dusty or dirty environments, your unit will need special material to prevent corrosion or bacteria growth. Another great example is the FDA compliant coatings and oil requirements for the food and beverage processing industry. 

Type of Load 

 Next, you’ll want to address the type of load you’re working with, which could be a uniform load, non-uniform load, or a high shock or impact load. A uniform load remains constant during the application and has a consistent amount of product that it’s moving. A great example of this would be a food and beverage processing conveyor. A non-uniform load changes during the application and requires a higher service factor, as intermittent forces can cause a periodic increase in the torque of your gearbox. With a high shock or impact load, you’ll want to account for the increased wear on the gear and shaft bearings, as well as the increased service factor

Output Style 

From there, you’ll want to identify the style of your output mechanism, which could include a sprocket, pulley, toothed pinion, or more. Certain output configurations will decrease how much overhung load the unit is rated for, such as a double output shaft or shaft mounted bushing. It’s also worth mentioning that most mechanisms will cause high radial load, although helical gearing can also cause an axial load. With this in mind, your gearbox may need different bearings to account for increased radial or axial load, depending on its output. 

Gearbox Mounting 

Lastly, you’ll want to analyze the mounting characteristics for your unit. Most manufacturers offer a wide range of options for each gear size when it comes to mounting configurations. This information can be found in each manufacturer’s catalogs and websites; however, some of the more common mounting options include mounting feet for either above or below the body of the gearbox, hollow outputs, and many different input and output configurations. Different housing styles could limit how a unit is mounted, so be sure to check a variety of options before considering custom frames or brackets. 

Common Types of Gearboxes 

Now that you have a better understanding as to what impacts the selection and sizing of a unit for a given application, we’ll walk you through the three most common types of gearboxes, all of which are offered from most manufacturers, like JIE Drive. JIE Drive provides innovative, intelligent drive solutions across the world to promote lean production in industrial manufacturing, serving industries, such as food and beverage processing, power and energy, construction and building materials, logistics equipment, engineering, and more. 

Helical Gearboxes

 Operating at a fixed angle, helical gearboxes, like the JRHB Series Helical-Bevel Gear Units from JIE Drive, allow for constant contact over a given period of time — making them the perfect choice for applications requiring uniform loads, such as crushers or conveyors. Helical gearboxes are low-power and compact and can come in variations that include coaxial helical inline, bevel helical, and skew bevel helical.

Worm Reduction Gearboxes

 Known for powerful operating, worm reduction gearboxes, like the JRW Series Worm Gear Units from JIE Drive, rotate in a screw-like movement and provide a rolling action versus a sliding action. Worm reduction gearboxes are not the most efficient because of this, which is why they are primarily used in heavy industrial applications that require high reduction ratios, shock load absorption, and high torque multiplication. 

Planetary Gearboxes

JRP Series Planetary Gear Unit

Producing nearly three times the amount of torque than a standard gearbox, planetary gearboxes, like the JRP Series Planetary Gear Units from JIE Drive, allow for a high torque density in a compact form. Planetary gearboxes have an aligned input and output shaft and are known for their high efficiency and low mass inertia, which is why they are most commonly used in packaging machinery and feed systems. 

Get the Right Gearbox for Your Application 

Looking for the most cost-effective gearbox that will meet the unique needs of your application? Contact us today or reach out to our dedicated team of experts at 913-677-3151 to see if a JIE Drive gearbox is right for your business. 

For additional drive solutions, visit ShopIBT to purchase motors, inverters, sensors, and more directly! 

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