Simulation is more than Software

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SEW simulates drive components and systems


SEW-EURODRIVE brings motion to almost all industries with its advanced drive technology. SEW has been using CADFEM simulation solutions for 30 years.

SEW simulates drive components and systems

SEW-EURODRIVE is a global, owner-managed, family business and a world leader in drive technology and drive automation. Founded in 1931, SEW now employs more than 16,000 people in 15 production and 77 assembly plants in 50 countries. Sales in the 2015/16 financial year amounted to around EUR 2.7 billion. 
The company supplies motors, gear units, frequency inverters, control units and complete drive solutions as well as comprehensive drive technology services. The central Product Development department in Bruchsal has been working with CADFEM for more than 30 years and uses Ansys simulation software. Today, 630 specialists are involved in product development here alone.


The SEW-EURODRIVE and CADFEM partnership goes back to the mid-eighties. Dr. Heinrich Bolz, PhD, was one of CADFEM’s first customers at the time. Today, he is Head of Calculation and Simulation in Gear Unit Development at SEW. He considers simulation a key element in the product development process:
“At SEW-EURODRIVE, simulation is an integral part of progressive, quality-oriented development. On the one hand, it can be used to evaluate and optimize product characteristics early on. On the other, we can be more particular about the experiments we run and therefore reduce the amount of testing. There is great acceptance of simulation throughout the product lifecycle and it is highly valued by management.”

Broad spectrum of applications

SEW-EURODRIVE uses simulations in all physical disciplines and for a wide range of applications and products. The advantages and benefits of simulation can be illustrated using the example of the development of the new K39/49 helical-bevel gear units. The highest torques and a lightweight but highly stiff gear unit that has proven to be very successful in the market were realized in a comparatively short space of time. The structural mechanics simulations included stiffness and strength testing as well as modal analysis for component optimization.
“By simulating the stiffness of the gear units, we wanted to identify critical load cases and analyze their impact, taking into consideration the direction of rotation of the drive and its installation situation,” explained Dr. Sascha Haller, a computational engineer in the Gear Unit Development department. “Deformation of the gear unit also causes shafts to shift, which can then affect the meshing. Based on the simulations, our gearing experts can make the necessary corrections to the gears to achieve the required load-bearing capacity.”

Optimization of acoustic properties

Research aimed at optimizing acoustic properties using modal analysis has been another area of simulation. Dr. Haller: “Noise is an increasingly important topic for us.” By way of example, he mentioned noise pollution for factory workers and the ideally silent drives used in theater stages. SEW has also gotten to grips with milling problems using modal analysis.

Knowledge sharing with CADFEM

SEW-EURODRIVE and CADFEM have a long and intensive partnership in the area of numerical simulation. In addition to software solutions, SEW also uses a range of CADFEM services. For example, CADFEM is repeatedly called on to perform simulations on behalf of SEW in order to help ease capacity issues. Additionally, CADFEM in-house training is held on an ongoing basis – both for new SEW employees and advanced users looking to learn more in specific areas. For their part, SEW experts are regular guests as well as enthusiastic and sought-after speakers at CADFEM Ansys Simulation Conferences.

Sales Manager Stuttgart