Harmonic drive gear for ROV

Paul Boughton

Seaeye Marine Limited, a leading designer and manufacturer of electrically powered remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) specifically for the offshore oil and gas industry, is using the latest Harmonic Drive gear technology for the main reduction gearing ratio of 160:1 on their underwater PT35N Electric camera Pan and Tilt system.

Supplied by Harmonic Drive UK Ltd, the innovative HDUF-20 gear system is being used for both pan and tilt axes and has enabled Seaeye to dramatically improve the reliability of its overall system.

Seaeye broke new ground when the company developed the first electric ROVs that would operate reliably for extended periods between maintenance in the offshore oil and gas industry and particularly in areas with strong currents, such as the North Sea.

Over the years, Seaeye has carried out work with brushless dc motor technology, developing it for use in ROV thrusters as well as integrated motor drive circuitry within the thruster body.

In addition, Seaeye was the first in its industry to use polypropylene, a material which is self-supporting in water, resistant to corrosion and extremely durable, for the construction of ROV frames. The innovative use of this material together with other composites and creative designs means that Seaeye has been able to develop and manufacture high performance ROVs with an unrivalled power to weight ratio.

The Harmonic Drive gearing, which was specially modified to match the application, so that the outside unit diameter was reduced from the standard 70mm to 66mm, is being used where traditional worm-and-wheel gearing was previously in Seaeye's pan and tilt cameras.

Additionally, as the cameras are used on Seaeye's Cougar and Panther ROVs, which are typically for use on offshore oil and gas installations and are rated to work down to depths of 3000m and 1500m respectively with options to 6000m, the robust construction of the Harmonic Drive gears meant that they would be able to withstand the harsh operating conditions and maximise time underwater.

Harmonic Drive's HDUF pancake-type gear sets have been designed to provide all the advantages of Harmonic Drive gears in a flatter configuration, including compact dimensions in a lightweight and simple construction. Furthermore, the gears feature high reduction ratios in a single stage, extremely low backlash, and in-line input/output, while installation and maintenance are quick and simple.

For more information, visit www.harmonicdrive.co.uk

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