Jarrod Futter, Engineering Manager at SEW-Eurodrive South Africa.

After the recent X.e series agitator unit launch in July 2023, SEW-Eurodrive South Africa has secured an order for nine units earmarked for the mining industry – a world-class first! The company has an extensive and proven reputation for providing reliable high performance solutions for mixing and agitation applications in various industries globally. Significantly, the X.e agitator units have proven suitable for mixing and blending liquids and other materials in the harsh African operating environment. 

“These units are ideal for applications where high power ratings are required for stirring and mixing materials, and what is significant is that we can customise these agitator units to suit the customer’s specifications,” Jarrod Futter, Engineering Manager at SEW-Eurodrive explains. “For example, we offer various bearing and shafting options and modular systems for the unit which can be selected to meet the customer’s budget and expectations.” 

Due to the customer’s requirements for nine low-ratio and moderately high torque and force application, the X3FSM240e HD version was selected. ”The selection process depends on multiple factors, including the input speed, motor power, loading distance, axial loading and most importantly, the radial loading in the application and required output speed,” Jarrodf adds.

The pre-sales launch of the X.e Agitator at the Hannover Messe, Germany in April 2023 was well received by industry.

Huge strides

The X.e agitator differs completely from previous X Series vertical drives. It is purpose designed for mixing and agitation, focusing on a stronger and dynamically improved housing. This allows for higher radial load applications, with a maximised bearing distance and an intelligent housing split above the maximum oil level to minimise potential leaks completely and offer better servicing and maintenance capabilities. 

The X.e agitator also features a new robust, integrated foot design with multiple aligned foot holes to allow for easy mounting and stiffness as well as huge strides in thermal improvement.

Digital twin

During the design process, SEW-Eurodrive applied the ‘digital-twin’ concept that ties real-world testing to a digital Finite Element Analysis. Explaining the process, Jarrod says this methodology allows the matching of real-time figures during testing to the digital analysis, achieving the same results. “This enabled many cost benefits, minimised the need for physical testing and allowed the team to see and solve problems before they happened. The digital-twin concept is a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly solution for development and testing, and minimises potential waste,” Jarrod remarks. 

As an example, he says that the extended bearing distance could be further optimised along with the oil flow characteristics. Using fluid simulation, the piping could be optimised internally, allowing the designers to see how the flow occurs before creating a physical unit to evaluate the theory. The simulation results could then be checked with real-time tests to ensure the oil flow occurs as designed and optimal lubrication is achieved.

The agitator units are ideal for applications where high power ratings are required for stirring and mixing materials. 

Unique bearing distance concept

The X.e agitator unit has a unique application-specific reinforced and extended bearing distance concept, with the distance between the lower and upper output shaft bearing mounted further apart. This creates a greater shaft distance between these loading points, which allows the low speed shaft to handle higher radial forces. “In layman’s terms – the lever has been made longer to move a larger load,” Jarrod explains.

The unit not only features a pressurised internal lubrication system that allows for continuous oil flow to all upper bearings and gears to ensure the units are well lubricated, but the unique labyrinth seal ensures protection from external particles that may damage the oil seals. Offering three sizes with various torque ranges and gear units, SEW-Eurodrive offers client-specific products all safely encapsulated inside the gearbox for client and product protection.

With five production plants worldwide and a footprint in more than 50 countries, the company offers a quick turnaround in aftersales support and aggressive lead times. “We are looking forward to making history with delivering the first nine X.e agitator units in the world and offering world-class aftersales support,” Jarrod concludes.


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