There is little doubt that for many companies, new product development is a key part of their business strategy, either enhancing their product range, targeting a part of the market previously unattainable, or replacing older or legacy items with new and better performing variants.
Whilst it is essential that companies ensure that their product range remains both technically and commercially competitive, it is essential that existing product variants, which have served the business and their customers well for many years, are not overlooked in favour of just promoting the latest addition to the range.
In this article, David Proud – General Manager of Reich Drive Systems UK explains why their ARCUSAFLEX coupling, which is just one part of a comprehensive range, is still the mainstay of many drive train applications, even although it was first introduced some 35 years ago.
There are of course reasons why new is good and sometimes better than an older generation product. It may be the case that previous product variants are now unable to attain the standards required today, it may be no longer manufactured, or the new version is aimed at improving on an older design known to have performance or reliability problems. Aside from addressing issues such as these, it is important to give serious consideration to why a change would be necessary or even appropriate.
The old adage “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” has itself stood the test of time and can, no doubt, be attributed to many different instances where product design or principle of operation have changed little if at all over the years. As long as a product is capable of still meeting, or indeed exceeding, its application and operational requirements, there is no good reason to replace it with an alternative just for the sake of it.
The ARCUSAFLEX range of drive couplings is a good case in point explains David Proud: “ARCUSAFLEX has been at the heart of the REICH portfolio for decades and is still in demand across a wide range of sectors, and for arduous applications, due to its impressive track record for performance and reliability. The coupling element can be subjected to high torsional loads and compensate for misalignment. During operation the coupling is backlash free. In addition to its main task of transferring the torque, the toothed profile design provides a failsafe mechanism in the event of an overload situation, protecting the drive train elements either side of the coupling from damage. These key characteristics and attributes are the same as they were on day one when the product was first introduced and have stood the test of time extremely well.”
Another key factor in the success of this coupling design is the selection of different rubber compounds which are manufactured in-house by REICH. These can be chosen to provide the correct torsional characteristics for the diversity of applications which may be encountered in the field and meet ambient operating temperatures which can be from -70°C up to +130°C in extreme cases.
Each of the more than 1 million couplings installed in the field has been designed using a range of torsional vibration calculations to ensure compliance with individual customer application criteria such as loads, frequencies, temperatures and other environmental or operating considerations. ARCUSAFLEX couplings have to date clocked up over 20 billion hours of run time in the field - a significant achievement in itself and one which reinforces the product’s reputation for reliability. REICH’s philosophy of manufacturing both the elastomers and machined components in-house also ensures ongoing and ready availability of spare parts.
David Proud continues: “The ARCUSAFLEX coupling range also confirms another often used quote – “if it looks right it is right” and this definitely applies to this product. The failsafe toothed profile looks well proportioned already at first glance, and even without closer inspection, it is clear that the relatively large rubber element will be capable of absorbing significant torsional loads and misalignment. In short, it just looks right.”
REICH can rightly be proud of the achievements of this long-standing coupling of their product range, and even although some have tried and failed to replicate it in one way or another, the fact that it is still very much in demand today, speaks for itself. The ARCUSAFLEX proves that in certain cases the established and field proven product is still very much today’s solution.
Even with such an impressive heritage the ARCUSAFLEX coupling range, in keeping with all REICH products, is subject to ongoing product development to ensure that it always stays one step ahead of changing demands from different industry sectors. Examples of this include the introduction of the new “Y” elastomer variant to increase product lifecycle within hot environments, plus approvals and certifications for ATEX – use within explosive environments – and several others specific to the marine and rail sectors.
These enhancements have all been achieved using the original ARCUSAFLEX coupling design concept. In addition to the comprehensive standard range of ARCUSAFLEX couplings, REICH also offers a D2C – Design to Customer solution that tailors the product design to the individual needs of the customers.