Electric motors - Gear motors

Precise gearboxes, efficient motors

At its plants in Wiechlice and Nowa Sól, Nord Drivesystems manufactures innovative drive technology such as the highly efficient IE5+ motor and the DuoDrive geared motor unit. This is made possible by advanced production technology and highly trained employees. 

A dozen loosely wound bundles of copper wires lie on an aluminum plate. On one side, they are each hooked into the teeth of a cylindrical device. A pneumatic guide grips the cylinder from above and pulls the copper wire bundles into the laminated core in a matter of seconds - producing a crucial intermediate product in the manufacture of stators for electric motors. 

"We have fully automated the winding of the copper wires," explains Premysław Sulikowski, Plant Manager at the Nord plant in Wiechlice, Poland. "This puts us well ahead of the field, but it is still far from being the global standard in the industry." The western Polish site is of particular importance in Nord Drivesystems' international production network, as this is where the company's highly efficient IE5+ motors are manufactured. Together with Nowa Sól, just over 30 km away, Wiechlice forms a dual location that is characterized by its intelligent, highly automated production technology and competent, highly trained employees. 220 men and women work in Wiechlice, about twice as many in the neighboring plant.

Automated high-tech production 

Two automated winding lines, each with an industrial robot feeding ten machines, form the center of stator production in Wiechlice. After automated winding, the stators are manually insulated and bandaged by experienced specialists, then impregnated and finally assembled in the housings. Production consumes up to 2.5 tons of copper per month; 160,000 stators were manufactured here in 2022. 

More than twice as many motors in sizes from 63 to 160 were assembled that year: 365,000 units. "We receive additional stators from our colleagues at the plant in Italy," says Sulikowski. "The rotors come from Nowa Sól or also from Italy." NORD has a large plant in San Giovanni Persiceto near Bologna. Regular truck transports connect the Polish sites with Italy and the main plant in Bargteheide near Hamburg.

All products tested three times 

In addition to stator production and further pre-assembly as well as motor production, the test department is crucial to the high quality standard in Wiechlice. "All products are tested three times here: twice for the stator itself and once for each assembled motor," emphasizes Premysław Sulikowski. A further test is then carried out later in another factory when the motor is installed with a gearbox to form a unit. 

Founded in 2019, Wiechlice meets the latest requirements for production sites. Work is carried out here on 14 production lines in two-shift operation. Due to increasing demand, including for IE5+ synchronous motors, the plant is currently undergoing significant expansion. A large hall extension will triple the hall space and production capacity from mid-2024. As part of the new building, deep boreholes are also being drilled for the installation of a geothermal system, which will enable the production halls to be heated in a CO2-neutral manner in future. This construction project is of great importance as part of Nord Drivesystems' sustainability strategy.

Delicately balanced intralogistics system 

IE5+ motors from Wiechlice are then delivered to Nowa Sól, 30 km to the north, where they are integrated into helical gearboxes and combined to form the extremely efficient DuoDrive geared motor units. In addition to the headquarters in Bargteheide in northern Germany, Nowa Sól is home to Nord Drivesystems' second major global gearbox assembly facility. Assembly manager Adam Strózyk oversees a total of 29 assembly lines here, on which around 10,000 gearboxes are manufactured each week. 

To achieve this, his more than 100 fitters work in two shifts. In the in-house paint shop, the gearboxes are even coated with a protective layer of paint in three shifts. The two existing painting lines have just been supplemented by a third. "We paint the gearboxes either in the standard colors blue or silver or in any color that our customers want," emphasizes Adam Strózyk. 

In order to be able to achieve these production capacities, the assembly workstations must be adequately supplied with the required parts. Nord has developed a delicately balanced intralogistics system for this purpose: An 18-metre high-bay warehouse with 6000 storage locations and three large Kardex small parts cabinets organize the inflow of materials; a semi-automatic outbound system is used to deliver the produced and tested gearboxes to other Nord locations or directly to the customer.

Decisive benchmark: quality 

The quality of the gearboxes produced in Nowa Sól is also the decisive benchmark. Experienced employees manufacture them at state-of-the-art manual assembly stations and all gear units are carefully tested. In order to guarantee the outstanding quality standard, NORD also produces the components that are crucial for the precision of the gear units in-house: input and output gears as well as motor and pinion shafts. 

Like oversized ice hockey pucks, the blanks made of various steel alloys are stored in dozens of wooden or lattice boxes. Production Manager Paweł Stasyszyn's machining department uses them to produce high-precision gears. They are shaped on lathes and milling machines and fitted with the required teeth. After hardening at an external service provider, the gears are given their exact geometry during final precision grinding. Engine and pinion shafts are manufactured on complete machining centers - in a single clamping operation, which further increases the accuracy of the transmission components. 

Precise gears, precise transmissions 

A total of 70 state-of-the-art turning, milling and complete machining machines are in operation around the clock in three-shift operation from Monday to Friday. The Paweł Stasyszyn team produces over three million parts per year in this way. 

"The overall accuracy of the gearbox depends on how precisely our gears are machined," emphasizes Stasyszyn. "Quality is therefore our top priority." This understanding is visibly expressed in the design of the hall layout. At the heart of mechanical processing is the test center, where the parts are tested. "We test every first part produced in a series as well as one from every shift," explains the production manager, who is also located in the center of production with three process engineers working alongside him. "In addition, there are those parts that have attracted attention on the production lines themselves." Around 2,000 hand-held measuring devices are available on the processing machines to subject the parts to an initial manual test. 

In this way, machine operators, fitters, test engineers and quality controllers work together to ensure outstanding product quality, which benefits the global users of Nord Drivesystems' gearboxes and motors.

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