Motor and drive trends: 
A conversation

North American Mining talked with Bosch Rexroth-Hägglunds Large Hydraulic Drives Sales and Operations Manager Brian Howell for his take on the factors that are moving the needle for the motors and drive market, including sustainability.

Edited by Donna Schmidt

Sustainability: it is a magic word of sorts in mining when we begin to talk about what’s important for the future. Read on for more about how it and other crucial indicators of what operators want, and will continue to demand.

NAM: How have you seen mining’s motors and drives market develop or shift in recent years, and are customers’ demands changing? Are there an increasing number of applications that leverage hydraulic solutions?

Howell: There has been a shift, toward a deeper evaluation of the equipment being specified. When a mine site is planning to make an investment in new equipment, they are seeking a solution that will provide high reliability and productivity for their operations, and it feels that sites are being more methodical in their approach and evaluation of equipment to ensure it checks those boxes.

There are certainly an expanding array of new applications utilizing the Hägglunds direct drive solutions. Customers are looking for simplicity, which our solutions offer by providing a direct drive solution without the need of a gear reducer, or supporting foundation, and offers full torque throughout the speed range, infinitely variable speed, with unlimited starts and stops – not to mention the ability for our drives to handle heavy shock loads without the need to oversize the drive equipment to handle these occurrences.

Are there still two “camps” with customers either preferring mechanical or hydraulic solutions?

Certainly, customers have preference to a technology, but often this comes from a lack of understanding the solutions offered due to educational background or experience. You use what you know and are comfortable with.

Often, we find ourselves in the “education” mode to teach our customer base about the major benefits our drive solutions offer customers in their applications. Most often, it boils down to building their comfort with a solution that may be new to them. Each solution has its own pros and cons, and finding that right fit for the application is what we strive to do. In many cases, reliability and uptime are critical factors, and here Hägglunds has a strong reputation at delivering.

Do you see more companies considering sustainability as a major priority? If so, what are the long-term sustainable benefits to a hydraulic drive versus mechanical?

Yes, this is a mainstream topic for many customers today, including Hägglunds, which have developed its own sustainability report about our business and how we rate in this respect. Customers are looking to do business with companies that can show sustainability is an important aspect of their daily activities.

There is a misconception in the market today that a mechanical drive (which typically includes a gear reducer), is “environmentally friendly.” But what does this really mean? Gear boxes still leak fluid and use fluid as a lubricating media, just as hydraulic solutions do, so what is the difference?

Hägglunds solutions often require less fluid than a mechanical drive offering the same torque output, and all of the company’s products are approved for use with EAL fluids without any de-rating. Those selecting Hägglunds and employing an EAL fluid are well on their way to being a better environmental steward.

Data continues to be a recurring factor when evaluating the performance of a drive. How should operators be tracking data? Has Hägglunds developed solutions to accommodate this growing need to monitor data and performance?

We see customers looking to have better real-time visibility to their equipment from anywhere; again, it is all about uptime. Hägglunds’ two solutions to fill this need, the first CM, is a condition monitoring solution which collects four data points in real time and uploads to a cloud server where a user can log in and view this data from their desk, tablet or mobile phone from anywhere. They can see data collected for the past seven-day period, at which time it overwrites the oldest information.

Another Hägglunds offering is CMp, a higher-level system that can connect multiple sensors for monitoring; it requires a preventive maintenance agreement with us. As part of the agreement, the user is provided with a monthly report explaining how their system operated over the past month and highlighting any areas of concern. This system can also trend operating data over time, and has historical look back capability, which can become a valuable asset to knowing when critical maintenance might need to be performed to prevent unplanned downtime using trends monitored over time as the guide.

In addition, CMp has alarming and messaging capability, whereby if the drive system operates outside of pre-set parameters, the user and our service technician will get a notification, so the issue can be evaluated quickly to assess if it requires immediate attention.

The addition of these two monitoring systems can greatly enhance the reliability of Hägglunds drive solutions and offer the customer the peace of mind they need with the limited resources available to them in their operations.