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Development of a new gearbox without lubricants for low OM costs, higher efficiency, and oiless applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTGEARBOX (Development of a new gearbox without lubricants for low OM costs, higher efficiency, and oiless applications)

Reporting period: 2014-11-01 to 2015-02-28

Located in the Bologna region in Italy, our company, VARVEL, is specialized in manufacturing of speed reducers and variators for light industry applications, such as machinery, feeding systems, photovoltaic devices or sliding doors and so on (metalworking, chemical, textile, farming, construction industries).

Smart GearBox is an innovative project with the objective of designing, testing, manufacturing and introducing into the market a range of new worm gearboxes: oil-free, with reduced maintenance (designed for 15,000 hrs maintenance-free) and improved efficiency (+10-15%). They are designed for applications with small torques, less than 100Nm, typically for equipment such as conveyor belts or packaging machines.

In order to confirm the feasibility of our project, we, VARVEL, have carried out a 4-month study focusing our efforts on 3 main areas: technically, our team has further evaluated and selected components for the application and prepared a complete Execution Plan for the development and engineering of our new Smart GearBox range; commercially, we have consolidated our knowledge of the markets and competition to develop a strong marketing strategy; financially, we have drafted detailed financial forecasts, on a 5-year-projection, and confirm the potential return on investment.
During our 4-month Feasibility Study, and based on the original Work Plan proposed in the Phase 1 proposal, several activities have been carried out.

Firstly, technically, further calculations, tests and component selection for the application were carried out. Following these developments, a preliminary risk analysis has been conducted to ensure that no issues have been left aside and thus that future development will be with a low and controlled risk. Our team has prepared a complete Execution Plan for the development and exploitation and the Smart GearBox range; we also confirm the required third party subcontractors to support us in the execution of the Phase 2 project.

Commercially, we have focused on the potential new markets which has allowed us to further prepare our marketing and pricing strategy. Furthermore, a complete Freedom-to-Operate was performed to search for existing IP rights that could infringe with our technology. This analysis has confirmed the novelty of the Smart GearBox and the absence of existing thread for its commercialization.

Financially, several scenarios have been detailed, leading to consolidated financial projections for the 2017-2020 period with highly positive turnover increase. Different sources of funding have been evaluated as well, leading to our decision to present a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 in March 2015
We hope to introduce the new products into the market in 2017.
As there is no lubricating oil used in these gearboxes, they are ideal for the Food and Beverage, Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment industries. Lubricating oils have a limited life span and they have to be disposed of in an appropriate manner, following national and European legislation, something which is costly and time consuming. The possible contamination of products will also be eliminated. And the lack of required maintenance on these gearboxes will mean savings in time and revenues for end users.