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Drive Systems Segment

Oerlikon Fairfield’s Patent-Pending Drive for Tunneling and Mining

Road header machines used in tunneling and mining encounter brutal conditions.  As the equipment continuously carves away at solid rock, mechanical drives can overheat, destroying bearings and gear packages.

Oerlikon Drive Systems, under its brand Oerlikon Fairfield, recently introduced the RHD-64, a new drive designed for the cutting heads on these machines.  This new design includes several patentable features and has attracted the attention of leading Chinese manufacturers of heavy equipment.

During design, special attention was paid to the cooling properties on the RHD-64, allowing for coolant to flow through the drive to the cutter head, as well as coolant cavities at both ends of the gearbox.  These features contribute to a long component life.

Traditional designs offer single motor inputs from the power source.  The RHD-64 was designed to accept dual inputs from electric or hydraulic motors thereby offering greater power.  Another special feature is the fused shaft inputs which connect the drive to the power sources.  These ‘fuses’ are replaceable and designed to fail before any overloading condition can do serious damage to the internal gearbox.  The result is that repairs can be performed in hours rather than in weeks, a key factor of importance for the owners of these very expensive machines. 

A final feature is the ‘force isolation’ design of the gearbox.  A floating ring gear is has been included which lessens the forces from the cutting head acting upon the internal gearing, reducing distortion and improving drive longevity.