From geared motor to mechatronic drive system
Drive technology was the force behind much of the industrialization that has happened in the 20th century. It is now one of the key pillars of automation as a whole. In decades of change, the modular system, the advance of electronics and new construction and production processes revolutionized the development, manufacture and performance of electrical drives.
As a pacesetter in the field of drive automation, SEW-EURODRIVE has always been in a position to play a significant role in shaping these developments.
At the start of the 20th century, industry was still dominated by transmission drives
One central motor drove several machines. Apart from the transmission losses and noise pollution involved, the high number of drive belts on the factory floor increased the risk of injury. Another disadvantage was the low energy efficiency, since the motor had to be switched on even when only one machine was in operation.
The next stage of development involved mounting an electric motor, gear unit and intermediate coupling on a base plate. While this enabled individual operation of machinery, it offered only little flexibility in terms of installation and also took up a lot of space in some cases.
The 1920s – technical advances thanks to the motor-gear unit combination
Designer Albert Obermoser, from Bruchsal in northern Baden, Germany, was one of the engineers who started looking for a space-saving solution. He registered his patent for a “geared motor” (pictured) on August 11, 1928. Obermoser coupled the electric motor directly with a low-speed drive component. The advantages of this invention were the smaller, more compact drive unit and its quieter, more precise operation. In terms of the history of technology, it can be seen as a precursor to the gearmotor, the key elements of which it already contained.
At the end of the 1920s, the geared motor represented a drive unit that could work with various gear units, depending on machine requirements, and – most importantly of all – enabled machinery to be operated individually.
“The invention relates to a motor-gear unit assembly with a motor unit flange-mounted to the gear unit housing. The motor shaft is mounted at one side instead of in an endshield in the wall of the gear unit housing and the countergear shaft in two walls of the same part of this housing.”
The 1930s – foundation of Süddeutsche Elektromotorenwerke
Once it got going, there was no stopping the advance of gearmotors, as we call them today. Founded in 1931, Süddeutsche Elektromotorenwerke – now known as SEW-EURODRIVE – was quick to recognize the outstanding potential of this drive technology, and continued to develop and optimize it. Under the leadership of company founder Christian Pähr, the Bruchsal-based company went on to make quite a name for itself in the mechanical engineering industry over the years that followed.
The second half of the 1940s was characterized by new beginnings and rebuilding after the Second World War. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, in 1945, Ernst Blickle, the son-in-law of Christian Pähr, took over as Managing Director. Despite the difficulties of the post-war period, he continued to expand operations. After the repair work was complete, the company was soon able to resume production of its gearmotors (pictured).
SEW-EURODRIVE drives were in great demand during the reconstruction period. Even before the currency reform of 1948, a slight boom was apparent in the market for gearmotors. The foundation stone was laid for the plant in Graben, near Bruchsal, in the spring of 1948. The first technical sales offices sprang up in western Germany, selling SEW-EURODRIVE products as independent agents. The German constitution came into effect in 1949, and progress can be seen in industry, too.