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Cutting costs in the materials handling supply chain
2nd Quarter 2018, Electrical switching & drive systems & components

The latest trend in materials handling has seen sectors such as warehousing, packing and pick-and-place use cheaper components for light-load conveyor applications in order to reduce total supply chain costs. In response to this latest customer requirement, SEW-Eurodrive has launched its new ECDriveS 24 V drive system. This is an acronym for Electronically Commutated Drive System, a brushless DC gearmotor. It also stands for ‘easy drive’, a simple and cost-efficient drive solution for roller-conveyor applications.

The latest drive solution was launched in Germany in 2017 following an extensive R&D programme and customer consultation, and is now being introduced to the South African market. “We have commenced with training to ensure our staff are familiar with the new product, and are currently assembling six units to go to all our branches countrywide for customer demonstrations,” says national sales manager, Norman Maleka.

A standout feature of the new drive system is that it is easily integrated into existing solutions, as it features both Ethernet and Profinet communications for seamless interfacing. The ease of integration is a major selling point for this product, as there is no need to change networks. Other advantages are precise positioning and ramp-up and ramp-down, and the ability to vary the conveyor speed accordingly.

Sensor input and output is provided for easy monitoring, with an alarm triggered in the event of any problem. The drive system has an IP 54 protection rating, in addition to an IP 66 version for more demanding applications such as industrial and food and beverage applications. The temperature range is –10 to 40°C, while the roller speed is up to 5 m/s. Gearbox speeds range from 8,5 to 645 rpm for added flexibility.

The Easy Drive is easy to work with, set up, install and maintain. This means it is particularly suited to African operating conditions, where onsite technical skills are often limited. Setup is either by dual in-line package (DIP) switches, or the drive system can be programmed using SEW-Eurodrive proprietary software. Despite the simplicity of the drive system, it even boasts a built-in encoder for precise positioning. “The encoder allows for accurate positioning of items whenever the conveyor is stopped, which is of particular benefit to customers with sorting applications.”

While SEW-Eurodrive has a wide range of products, particularly gearmotors, the prevailing trend in materials handling is for smaller, quick to assemble, easy to handle and cost-effective solutions. “If a customer only needs to move empty cardboard boxes or containers, for example, a high-end gearbox is not cost-effective, in addition to the space constraints in terms of installation and commissioning,” Maleka points out. These customers typically have low power requirements of only 30 to 40 W, which means that a 1,5 kW motor and gearbox is not an ideal solution.

ECDriveS is a highly-compact solution, with roller size ranging from 300 to 1200 mm, meaning it is especially tailored for smaller conveyor applications. These are used mainly in pack houses in agricultural and farmers’ co-operative applications, where the bulk of the items are packed manually, and then placed on a conveyor to be loaded onto a truck. No parameterisation is required, which means no complex elements such as a PLC. It is truly a plug-and-play system that saves customers time and money.

While SEW-Eurodrive has already been involved in this smaller end of the market, the launch of ECDriveS will position the company as a preferred solutions provider. “We have tended to focus on larger applications. However, the introduction of ECDriveS means we can now compete effectively, especially against inferior quality and cheaper imports,” Maleka notes.

What gives SEW-Eurodrive the leading edge in the marketplace is its service support. “We hold over R130 million worth of stock at any given time to ensure we can provide comprehensive solutions to our customers. Our well-established footprint throughout Africa extends our aftermarket capability even further.”

Maleka concludes that the introduction of the high-volume ECDriveS is integral to SEW-Eurodrive’s strategy of offering a total solution. “We strive continuously to introduce products that add to our overall portfolio, and which complement our existing range. This is linked to our approach of targeting system integrators. At the end of the day, we want to make our customers aware that we can offer them complete end-to-end solutions, and not just components.”

For more information contact Jana Klut, SEW-Eurodrive, +27 (0)11 248 7000,

Supplied By: SEW-Eurodrive
Tel: +27 11 248 7000
Fax: +27 11 248 7289
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