BCH Ltd Rochdale, a manufacturer of process systems for the food and confectionery industries, specialises in turnkey systems for the production of a large range of products including fruit products, caramel, syrups, jams and preserves, as well as process systems for the production of soups, sauces and sweet and savoury fillings.
The company reported recently running into a ‘design challenge’ as a key control component of their high-speed guillotine machine was becoming obsolete – the critical control component, the servo gearbox on the guillotine control system, has a “profound” impact on the overall performance; it currently features as part of the company’s extrusion systems and is supplied as a stand-alone option for other industries including pet food.
To find a new solution, BCH undertook a fundamental design review to target a solution which would result in a guillotine system with an upgraded performance and providing more versatility for smaller cutting at high line speed rates.
“The need to change this gearbox and servo unit was due to the existing option we used becoming obsolete. Therefore, it pushed us into finding alternative options. This opened the opportunity to have more control over our cutting capability,” explained Marc Oddy, Project Manager, BCH. “We knew that loss of torque under intensive working conditions would be a major challenge … When we looked at the torque and accuracy elements required for a servo gearbox, we noticed that most gearbox manufacturer’s products lost a lot of torque when you reduce the ratio.”
BCH found the solution in form of the Apex Dynamics KF180 High Precision Planetary Gearbox series. The company ran into a small bump when implementing the new design in finalising the ratio selection, but they say thanks to the help of Apex they say they were able to modify the design, implement the unit and test the new capability to find the right ratio to meet customer requirements.
“We chose the KF180, due to the two critical elements of good torque retention and continuous running capability and have not been disappointed at all with the actual performance of the unit,” added Marc. “Throughout this project we have had excellent technical and logistical support from Apex Dynamics and their local manager Malcolm Hillary has been very active in enabling us to test out the options we wanted to try. Malcolm has also been proactive in alerting us to innovative machine control solutions and keeping us up to date with servo technology which may be of interest in other machines in our range.”
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