Reverse Engineering an Industrial Gearbox | The Federal Group USA

Reverse Engineering an Industrial Gearbox

The Federal Group is an industrial gearbox manufacturer that supplies products and services within a variety of sectors. This case study will outline how we were able to assist a customer with a changeover from an existing industrial gearbox supplier while ensuring key performance and dimensional parameters were maintained to interface with existing equipment.

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What is an industrial gearbox?

An industrial gearbox is a mechanical device used to transmit or amplify power from a motor using various gear configurations similar to a propulsion transmission. A simple example is a vehicle power winch where a gearbox is used to convert the high-speed low torque of an electric motor into high-torque low-speed output required to retract the cable under high load. There are three general categories of the industrial gearbox as described below:

  • Concentric – Input and output shafts are on the same axis
  • Parallel – Input and output shafts are parallel
  • Right angle – Input and output shafts are at 90 degrees to each other
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The challenge with the legacy industrial gearboxes

The client reached out to The Federal Group when their existing industrial gearbox manufacturer was no longer able to manufacture a right-angled gearbox that was used in their existing agricultural equipment. The gearbox had to be manufactured so that it could be installed into the equipment without modifying anything that could result in unacceptable delays and cost overruns for the client. Two right-angled gearboxes in a clockwise and counterclockwise configuration were required.

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Reverse engineering the industrial gearbox

Our team of experts was able to reverse engineer the gearboxes by using samples provided by the client. The replication process consisted of measuring and 3D scanning each of the components that made up the gearbox assembly. This measurement data was then used to develop CAD models and subsequent manufacturing drawings of the individual components. The industrial gearbox parts were manufactured as follows:

  • Shafts – Retaining ring grooves, sealing surfaces, threads, and surfaces for fitting bearings were CNC machined into the shafts.
  • Gears – Gear blanks were forged and then machined to match the dimensions of the original gears.
  • Gearbox housing – The gearbox housing was sand cast and an industrial, corrosion-inhibiting coating was applied. The client’s logo was also incorporated into the gearbox housing.
  • Housing cover – The removable housing cover was metal stamped.
  • Buy-out components – We were able to source buy-out components to match those installed on the original gearboxes, including the fasteners, bearings, seals, and snap rings.

Each of the individual components and completed assemblies underwent extensive and rigorous in-house testing to ensure strict performance parameters and quality requirements were met. The gearbox internals were lightly oiled to prevent corrosion during transport as the gearboxes could not be transported with filled oil reservoirs.

Once manufacturing and internal testing were completed the client inspected the gearbox assembly to ensure no excessive noises were present and that the gearbox performed as expected. The gearboxes were then fitted onto the original agricultural equipment and interfaced perfectly.

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A seamless transition

Due to the expert assistance provided by our team, the client was able to seamlessly integrate the newly manufactured gearboxes into their existing equipment. No drastic design changes were required on the original equipment and the gearbox performance was maintained. This saved the client significant time and cost that would have been required to modify existing equipment to suit a standard gearbox design from alternative industrial gearbox manufacturers.

The benefits of  working with industrial gearbox manufacturers

Due to The Federal Group’s expertise in facilitating the manufacturing and procurement of all the gearbox components, the client finds comfort in the fact that any future spare parts can be easily sourced from us. Additionally, the client now has a reliable manufacturing partner with the engineering expertise and manufacturing know-how to solve any future engineering challenges. 

Our extensive engineering expertise with industrial gearboxes

Our capabilities as an industrial gearbox manufacturer were proven by how we were able to reverse engineer the entire gearbox assembly including all of the individual parts. Our industrial gearbox expertise further translates across a wide array of different industries as listed below:

  • Agricultural Industry 
  • Highway Construction 
  • Windfarm / Windpower Industry 
  • Sustainable Energy Industry 
  • Railways 
  • Ship Building 
  • Petro Chemical 
  • Oil & Gas 
  • Heavy Truck 
  • Heavy Equipment 
  • Waste Water Treatment 
  • Sewage Treatment 
  • Machine Building

To learn more about how you can leverage our extensive engineering expertise and manufacturing capacity to assist you in developing, manufacturing, and testing your industrial gearbox, contact a TFG USA representative today.