Südzucker – modernization (retrofit) of central sugar beet conveyor belt

  • Sugar beets

Our drive technology safeguards sugar production

No beet transportation means no sugar. At Südzucker in Offstein, a central conveyor belt transports sugar beet for further processing. Redesigning it was a challenge calling for drive technology from SEW‑EURODRIVE.

The project at a glance

Südzucker company logo
Südzucker company logo
  • Customer: Südzucker AG
  • Equipment manufacturer: Westa Fördertechnik GmbH
  • Location: Offstein (Germany)
  • Industry: Foodstuffs
  • Application: Drive technology for a sugar beet conveyor belt

Further information about Südzucker AG:

  • Employees (2019): 16 500
  • Headquarters: Mannheim
  • Main shareholder: Beet farmers hold 56% of the capital through the SZVG (Association of South German Sugar Beet Growers)
  • Production: 4.7 million metric tons of sugar per year
  • Sites: International set-up with nine sites in Germany
  • 1883: Offstein sugar factory is founded
  • 1920: Offstein and Gross-Gerau sugar factories merge, special interest group of South German sugar factories is founded
  • 1926: Five regional sugar companies merge to create Süddeutsche Zucker-Aktiengesellschaft, Mannheim
  • 1988: Süddeutsche Zucker-Aktiengesellschaft and Zuckerfabrik Franken GmbH merge to form Südzucker Aktiengesellschaft Mannheim/Ochsenfurt
  • 2001: Südzucker's 75th anniversary
  • 2015: Südzucker Aktiengesellschaft Mannheim/Ochsenfurt is renamed Südzucker AG

Further information about Westa Fördertechnik:

  • A manufacturer of materials handling equipment and accessories for the transportation of bulk materials and general cargo, the automotive industry and the recycling industry
  • Employees (2019): 80
  • Headquarters: Göllheim
  • Founded: 1972
  • Production area: > 4000 m 2
Sugar beet on the conveyor belt
A 22-meter climb – sugar beet on its way to the production process
  • Sugar beet conveyor belt modernization (Retrofit Service) within the scope of a partial renovation of the production facilities
  • Increasing the system's conveying capacity to max. 1100 metric tons per hour
  • Belt conveyor 132 meters long
  • Absolute guarantee of production reliability and service life
  • Use of food-grade lubricants
End of the conveyor belt with a blue gearmotor
Flange-mounting the motor and gear unit saves space
  • Two redundant drive units
    • Each with a 200 kW IE3 DRN.. AC motor with soft-start function
    • X3KS20/HU/B three-stage industrial gear unit (bevel-helical gear unit) with a nominal gear unit torque of 90 kNm
    • Power reserve for reliable operation and a longer service life
    • Two redundant drive units, making it possible to switch to the second drive in the event of a failure
    • Interchangeable motors
  • Special solutions
    • Maintenance-free, fail-safe axial fan for cooling
    • Temperature sensor in the gear unit
    • Food-grade gear oil
    • Food-grade grease for the motors' grooved ball bearings
  • End-to-end Retrofit Service
    • Analysis and design of the drive technology
    • Selection and assembly of appropriate drive components
    • Rapid response and reliable service
A blue conveyor belt transports sugar beet into the white production hall
The conveyor belt takes the sugar beet to the production process
  • Increase in the system's sugar beet conveying capacity
  • Excellent production and process reliability during critical production periods
  • Impressive redundancy and service life
  • Simplified maintenance and spare parts storage

At Südzucker AG's Offstein factory, the annual sugar beet crop is transported along a central conveyor belt at a rate of up to 16 000 metric tons per day. Drive technology from SEW‑EURODRIVE was the equipment of choice for retrofitting this belt conveyor. Our customized solution combined redundant drive units with powerful motors and robust industrial gear units. We improved production reliability while also increasing the conveying capacity to as much as 11 000 metric tons of beet – and that's per hour!

Maximilian Krantz, responsible for process engineering at Südzucker

Virtually a house brand

After many years of positive experiences, SEW‑EURODRIVE has virtually become one of our house brands.


Mario Stolzenberg, a project manager at Westa Fördertechnik

Collaboration to continue

SEW‑EURODRIVE has thoroughly impressed us with both its range of products and its collaboration, so we'll continue working with the company in the future.


Bernhard Lang, a sales engineer at SEW‑EURODRIVE

Devising good solutions together

When the people on both sides of the table are highly competent, work is enjoyable and everyone contributes their know-how, which ultimately delivers a great result.


Impressions of the project

The project in detail

Long-lasting quality and rapid service

Between September and December, Südzucker AG's Offstein factory is extremely busy, processing the annual sugar beet crop by turning up to 16 000 metric tons of sugar beet into some 2000 metric tons of sugar and syrup each day. At the heart of the production facility is a conveyor belt that takes the sugar beet to the production process. In addition to preventing this component from breaking down at all costs, an overhaul of the belt conveyor was also essential.

Südzucker AG awarded the contract for the redesign work to Westa Fördertechnik from Göllheim, an expert in its field that has been a Südzucker supplier for many years. Right from the outset, everyone involved was aware of the particular challenge of this project. Availability and reliability were the top priorities. With a conveyor belt 132 meters long and the belt alone weighing nine metric tons, there were also numerous variables that could not be defined with any degree of precision – an additional headache.

Given these sensitive issues and the high level of production reliability required, only well-known, dependable suppliers were used. SEW‑EURODRIVE was the preferred partner for drive technology, in particular because of its long-lasting product quality, impressive reliability, rapid service and considerable experience with stationary conveyor lines the world over.

A drive design with a sufficient power reserve was first agreed on in consultation with SEW‑EURODRIVE. The calculated belt speed and the gear unit dimensioning were also increased to be on the safe side. Positive effects on the service life were an added bonus.

Redundant drives for greater reliability in production

The final drive solution was geared entirely to reliable, uninterrupted sugar production. Not one but two motor-gear unit combinations are now flange-mounted on the conveyor belt – one to the right of the conveyor drum and one to the left. If one drive fails, Südzucker can simply switch to the other. Following a quick mechanical conversion of the pin coupling between gearmotor and conveyor drum, the sugar beet resumes its journey.

Each drive unit has an energy-efficient 200 kW fixed-speed IE3 DRN.. AC motor with soft-start function. Large X3KS2010/HU/B industrial gear units – designed for a nominal gear unit torque of 90 kNm – transfer the motors' torque to the conveyor belt, reducing a motor speed of 1489 min-1 to the conveyor belt's output speed of 33 min-1.

The three-stage bevel-helical gear units are largely identical but operate with different directions of rotation. The key design feature of our modified gear unit is that the motors have the same direction of rotation, which means they can simply be interchanged in an emergency. In addition to improved redundancy and availability, Südzucker also benefits from simplified warehousing thanks to identical spare parts.

Special requests included

The industrial gear units in use in Offstein convert high motor speeds into low belt speeds. The heat this process generates necessitates active cooling. We normally use oil-air coolers for such tasks, but that would be another component that could break down, so our experts opted for a special solution – a specifically optimized axial fan between motor and gear unit. Operating at the same speed as the motor, the maintenance-free fan is both simple and effective, with no need for a separate controller. Südzucker thus benefits from enhanced reliability and lower maintenance costs.

The axial fan was just one of several ingenious add-on solutions. We applied food-grade lubricants approved by Südzucker to the conveyor belt. This included the oil for the gear units and a special grease for the motors' grooved ball bearings. Also at the customer's request, we gave the gear unit its own integrated temperature sensor.

The reason why we're so flexible when it comes to such special measures is simple – we do virtually everything ourselves. Almost all production steps take place in-house – from gear unit production to motor winding – and we love making our customers happy, even in the case of challenging requirements like those of Südzucker in Offstein. Bring on the next sugar beet harvest!


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