A custom gearmotor is one that meets your particular specifications. It has the correct mechanical and electrical interfaces, fits within the envelope available, meets your performance, maintenance, lifetime, and aftermarket criteria, and fits within your budget.

Many considerations are involved in specifying the correct gearmotor for your application. They run the gamut from AC or DC, single or three phase, PSC or split phase, PMDC or BLDC, TEFC or TENV, cord or flying leads, parallel shaft or right angle, stub or hollow shaft, keyed or splined, grease or oil lubrication, face or foot mount, just to mention a few. Determining your torque requirement, output speed, overhung load, duty cycle and environmental criteria all pose design engineering challenges.

If you’re designing equipment that will likely require thousands or gearmotors per year, then you should be working with a gearmotor supplier who can give you a truly custom solution that meets all your needs and for which you don’t have to pay extra for features or performance exceeding your engineering requirements.

Fig. 1. This duty cycle chart shows how it’s possible to use a smaller gearmotor if your duty cycle is lighter than the gearmotor manufacturer’s.
Here are some useful guidelines for selecting custom gearmotors:

1) Involve the Gearmotor Supplier Early in the Design Process: To the extent that you engage your gearmotor supplier’s application engineers early in your design cycle, you will ensure that you meet all of your specifications as well as your budget target. Skilled and experienced gearmotor application engineers can save you months of time. If brought in early, they can understand, and possibly even help you design your test protocol.

2) Expect Custom Engineered Samples in a Reasonably Short Timeframe: It’s not unusual to see “next day samples” touted in marketing materials. On reading the fine print, though, that only applies to a limited variety of standard, catalog products. Say your application only requires slight modification to a standard item, such as shaft detail, cord or connector, gear ratio change, etc. It is not unreasonable to expect such prototypes can be turned around in a couple weeks or so. Changes to motor windings or designs, new gearheads, castings, or other truly custom solutions will take longer. A good gearmotor supplier will have the resources to significantly reduce leadtimes for prototypes. It is unnecessary to wait 16 weeks or more for a custom gearmotor prototype.

3) Can They Scale-Up to Meet Your Volume?: If you are considering changing gearmotor suppliers on an existing high volume project, you need to know if they have a track record of successfully ramping up new, high volume business. They should also have the capability to quickly and effectively “reverse engineer” your existing gearmotor designs. A really good gearmotor supplier can engineer and deliver more than a dozen different gearmotor models that a customer may require to replace his old supplier, and ramp up to thousands of units per month within just a couple of calendar quarters.

4) Consider Value-Added Capability: Your gearmotor supplier should be capable of working with you to provide more than just a gearmotor. Increasingly, companies are finding they can increase productivity, reduce inventories and facility requirements by working together with their gearmotor supplier to provide engineered subassemblies or assemblies. Your gearmotor supplier should be willing to work with you to supply your needs to the level of value you desire.

5) Get to Know Your Gearmotor Supplier Team: Your gearmotor supplier will be an important element in your company’s supply chain and they should welcome a visit by you and your team. Take this opportunity to assess your gearmotor supplier’s facilities, personnel and quality procedures. In addition to their sales and marketing executives, you want to get to know their engineering, operations and other key executives and managers who will become an important part of your own extended team.

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