Although an essential and integral part of drive trains, couplings can sometimes be mistaken as a commodity product. In reality, however, drive couplings are actually high

specification components, designed and manufactured to ensure reliable and safe operation in even the most demanding applications and environments. David Proud, general

manager of Reich Drive Systems UK, provides an insight into the world of drive couplings, and gives guidance on how to ensure the correct unit is specified for the application


rive couplings are a key component across many different industry segments including

automotive, marine, power generation and many more. It’s not surprising, therefore, to find that there is an equally diverse number of different coupling types to choose from. These are generally categorised as highly flexible, torsionally flexible or torsionally rigid variants. Different industry sectors may require couplings with particular characteristics. For example,

Coupling up for success in power transmission

compensating couplings of an all-metallic design, which transmit the torque in a torsionally rigid and backlash-free manner. The transmission elements are disc packs manufactured from stainless spring steel plates that are attached to the coupling components by close tolerance bolts.

Reich’s Arcusaflex coupling TOK Coupling

within power generation, and depending upon the specific application, designers can select from coupling types including: highly flexible rubber couplings, highly flexible and torsionally soft couplings, torsionally flexible flange couplings, and torsionally elastic claw couplings. For other sectors, such as automotive, and

within the test bench environment – including engine development testing, roller dynamometer testing and emissions testing – the requirements will be different. Ideally suited to test bench applications, Reich Kupplungen’s TOK coupling system is just one of a number of types offered by Reich for this sector. The broad range of flexible coupling elements, adaptive designs and connection shafts provides standard solutions for a wide variety of different tasks, complemented by specific customised designs if required through the company’s D2C (Design to Customer) principle. Other applications may require torsionally

rigid coupling types, such as Reich Kupplungen’s FlexDur FD-C-coupling. These are flexible

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE As they vary greatly in their design and capabilities, application engineers must

ensure that they specify the drive coupling correctly to ensure reliable, efficient and, in the more challenging applications, safe operation. A detailed review of what the coupling will be subjected to in use is an essential starting point. Factors such as torque transmission, speed

ranges, running start/stops and potential shock loadings are just some of the key elements in the selection of the coupling. However, we must also consider alignment between the various components, the environmental operating conditions – that could include high temperatures or moisture – and any additional maintenance requirements or restrictions. There may also be potential limitations on available space, size and/or weight. The prime mover, diesel or gas engine, hydraulic or electric motor, will also be influential in the specification. Take the time to get it right, and the coupling

will provide years of uninterrupted service, while ensuring that mating components are protected from undue stresses, and keeping downtime to a minimum.

COUPLING WITH HYBRID DRIVES Electric and Hybrid drives are developing at a pace within the automotive sector and are fast becoming a readily accepted method of propulsion for a wide range of private and commercial vehicle types. Whilst the automotive sector has for some

Reich’s FlexDur FD-C Coupling offers torsionally rigid and backlash free characteristics

time been the focus for the development of eco- friendly power sources, the commercial shipping industry, cruise liners and pleasure craft generally


still rely heavily on conventional fuels and generate a significant amount of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. It is clear that the internal combustion engine will continue to play an important part in shipping for some time to come, however the recent introduction of Germany’s first electrically driven excursion vessel could help to point the way for the development of cleaner power sources for larger ships. At the heart of this innovative craft, and transmitting the power from a total of three drive types, is a specially developed coupling unit from Reich-Kupplungen. The coupling

system for the drive (right) consists of a Multi Mont Sella 100 claw coupling with an Arcusaflex 5.1 flange coupling and two electromagnetic clutches. The challenge faced by Reich’s engineers

included delivering a switchable propulsion drive system which would allow the automated use of the three drive types: purely electric drive, purely diesel drive, or combined diesel-electric drive.

KEEPING MAINTENANCE SIMPLE From a maintenance perspective, the time required to remove or replace a coupling should be a major consideration when selecting a drive coupling. Therefore, choosing a coupling that not only meets all of the technical and application requirements, but is either maintenance-free or has the ability to have change parts replaced in-situ, will bring significant benefits to uptimes and efficiency. If there is any doubt on the part of the

individual responsible for specifying and selecting the coupling, seeking expert advice from the manufacturer will both eliminate risks and ensure longevity and reliability in operation.

Reich Drive Systems UK


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