Plucks Engineering’s search for a model gearbox supplier began a few years ago to supply a gearbox for a brand new application: an effluent pond agitator. With Bonfiglioli, he found what he was looking for.
Founded in 1966, Plucks Engineering Ltd (Plucks) is a second generation family business which differentiates itself as a flexible and customer focused agricultural repair and manufacturing engineering business.
Conveniently located in Rakaia between Christchurch and Ashburton in New Zealand, Plucks are fully prepared to deliver overnight – if not the same day – and their workshop designs and develops fast and flexible agricultural and heavy machinery.
As Neil Pluck, managing director of Plucks, explained: “We are firmly rooted in agriculture and specialize in the manufacture and repair of a wide range of agricultural machinery, ranging from cultivation, drilling, heavy water ballast rollers, square bale feeders and general repairs. of most agricultural machinery.
“We produce a wide range of dairy effluent products, ranging from saucers, concrete pumps and rafts, effluent main lines, mobile effluent irrigators, pond agitators and dairy screening equipment. dairy effluents. About 60-70% of what we do is focused on effluent.
Plucks’ solutions are sold throughout New Zealand and are exported to Australia, Brazil, Chile, the UK and the United Arab Emirates.
Finding the right supplier for the job
Pluck said the company looks for expertise, knowledge and skill when finding the ideal supplier. “We rely heavily on our suppliers to complete our product offering. »
Pluck emphasized the importance of supplier finances and inventory availability. “In the past, we had suppliers that had to close or couldn’t deliver what we needed on time. This had a ripple effect and was problematic for all parties involved.
Plucks’ journey to a miniature gearbox supplier began a few years ago. The company was looking for a new supplier to help them with a gearbox for a completely new application: an effluent pond agitator. “We started working with dairy farms in the 1980s to supply a range of irrigators, pumps and mains, but as the farms grew so did the effluent ponds.”
He said their team found that the effluent ponds started to crust over as the seeds started to settle and grow. “It was difficult to manage, but we found that by slowly stirring the pond, the standing water came back to life.”
Plucks has developed a solution to the problem. “We got in touch with a company that made agitators – but not specifically for effluent. We adapted their blades and systems to suit the dairy industry and over time decided it was time to develop our own products.
“We weren’t happy with the gearbox and electric motor combination we had at the time and we spent a lot of time following up with the supplier. In the end, they couldn’t give us the answers we needed.
Based on their background and international footprint, Plucks turned to Bonfiglioli. “Based on my previous experience with planetary gearheads, I wanted to stick with these,” Pluck said. “I knew that Bonfiglioli produced them, and it was almost by chance that my path crossed Paul Savage – Bonfiglioli’s sales manager in New Zealand.”
According to Pluck, Savage and his team persisted and continued to challenge Plucks’ theories – insisting that they could help solve the problem. “In the end, we decided to give them a try!”
We want a gearbox – we don’t want to hear about it…
Addressing the gearbox in question, Savage explained that the 300M series is ideal for heavy-duty applications where compactness is not an option. “It’s modular and can be customized to fit a wide range of applications. Even better, it works in demanding environments without downtime.
A big advantage for Plucks was that the 300M series could be mounted vertically on a torque arm installed close to the motor. “The output shaft type was to our exact specifications and required no modification.”
Today, this electric manure agitator is mounted on a flotation raft – complete with three pontoons and support frame. “Available from 1.1 kW to 3.0 kW, this low-maintenance solution offers high throughput at low power consumption.”
Highlighting the challenges involved, Pluck said the gearbox had to stand up and run 24/7 for years without interruption. “We have multiple agitators in large basins that run year-round with no downtime,” he noted. “In fact, some of them have been running for 10 years with minimal maintenance.”
“The long life of the synthetic oil found in the 300M means there’s no need for frequent oil changes,” added Savage.
He said the app’s longevity can be attributed to the mechanical outlook shared by both parties. “We ‘overspec’ the product to make sure it doesn’t run too close to its limit. This is especially important in these harsh environments and where the gearbox is hard to reach. The 300M series was intentionally over-specified to compensate for the harsh environment and unforgiving application, because 24/7 really means 24/7 in this case!
Despite a mechanical power requirement of 0.75kW to 5kW, the selected unit has a capacity of 11kW to circumvent any possible future issues,” Savage said. “This ensures that the gearbox does not fail. It costs a little more upfront, but in the long run maintenance-free uptime far outweighs the cost. »
According to Neil, the drive system and the connection of the agitators are designed to adapt to the Bonfiglioli configuration. “The very wide range of output shaft and flange options made it easy for us to produce a robust connection between the shaft and the gearbox,” Pluck said. “This ensures that there is no problem keeping these units operating in the terrible liquid effluent environment they are needed for, 24/7/365 for years. Out of the hundreds and hundreds we have sold in this environment we only had two minor issues and they were very minor at that.
Loyal to its customers and confident in its product, Plucks offers a two-year warranty on its effluent, which Pluck says is “unprecedented in the industry.”
As the relationship continues and grows stronger, Pluck said Plucks feels well supported by Bonfiglioli. “The team offers deep engineering and technical expertise and we have a great working relationship.”
Visit Bonfiglioli at the Australian Bulk Handling Expo – BULK 2022 – from August 24 to 26 at the Melbourne Convention Centre.