Design Solutions

Site search Advanced

Rulmeca’s smart alternative to conventional geared drives

Published: 25 October 2018 - Rachael Morling

Rulmeca Motorised Drums were first produced in 1956 to provide plant managers and designers with a compact, hermetically sealed and highly efficient drive solution for belt conveyors and associated material handling equipment.

Various material handling applications require different drive solutions, but all have the same core requirements for high efficiency, simple installation, a broad operating performance and offering virtually maintenance-free running.

A Rulmeca Drum Motor is the ideal method of driving a wide range of standard flat belt, plastic modular and positively-driven thermoplastic conveyor belts, as well as in many non-belt applications.

Whilst engineers look for design freedom, they must select the right drive that support aesthetics, minimises energy consumption, optimises hygienic operating conditions and fulfils H & S requirements.

Rulmeca Drum motors combine and integrate the electric motor, gearbox and bearings into one hermetically sealed pulley that is tested to IP66/69.

Whereas, traditional conveyer belt drives that are still in widespread use, often comprise of several individual components including the geared motor, torque arm, mounting plate and drive pulley. Also, external bearings, protective guarding and cooling fans can be an intrusive problem to locate on conveyors with limited access.

The awareness and acceptance of engineers to specify drum motors as being the most safe and hygienic ‘all-in-one’ drive solution, when compared to separate conventional drive systems, has had to overcome an unwillingness to accept change. But over the years and with constant development, the drum motor has proven itself to be totally reliable and more than a match in many applications.

Why specify Rulmeca Drum Motors over conventional geared drive?

As many companies look to achieve efficiencies on the shop floor the features and benefits of drum motors has become more apparent. We consider some of the reasons for using Rulmeca Drum Motors instead of conventional geared motor drives and highlight some important features and benefits:-

Compact Space Saving Design: Rulmeca Drum Motors are very compact with the motor, bearings and gearbox being enclosed inside a single roller casing. It requires less space with fewer installation parts than conventional geared motor drive arrangements and can be discretely installed directly into the belt conveyor to increase the aesthetic and functional value of the finished unit. A geared motor can be flanged on the side, above or below the profile, which visually can be obtrusive and a hindrance in confined spaces.

Reduced energy consumption: Compared to many corresponding motor and gearbox systems commonly used in industry, Rulmeca drum motors are able to use less energy for the same performance, helping to reduce power consumption, benefiting the environment and reducing energy costs.

Increased output efficiency: Rulmeca drum motors have a higher efficiency compared to traditional motor transmission systems, which are normally able to transfer approximately 75% of the power used to the belt. A Rulmeca drum motor is able to transfer up to 97%.

Ease of installation: Rulmeca drum motors are much faster and easier to install when compared to traditional multiple component motor transmission systems, typically requiring less than a quarter of the time for installation.

Proven versatility: Rulmeca drum motors are designed to operate perfectly to provide drive solution for belt conveyors and associated material handling equipment, even in some of the most testing and aggressive environmental conditions such as, in the presence of water, dust, grit, chemicals, grease, oil and even during high pressure wash-down procedures.

High quality design and precision engineering make the Rulmeca Drum Motors perfect for operating in all applications such as packaging, dynamic weighing, distribution, airport and logistics.

For years, Rulmeca has manufactured motorised drums with diameters up to 1000mm and higher powers up to 250 kW for the handling of minerals, aggregates, concrete and other bulk materials.

Guaranteed for food and hygienic applications

The ‘sealed for life’ stainless steel drum motors from Rulmeca have been tested to IP66/69 and released for operations in most demanding cleaning procedures such as the clean-in-place processes that are carried out with the conveyor belt running. 

This protection class IP 66/69 offers protection against high-pressure cleaners and steam jets even reducing contamination risk in food and other processing environments.

In general, conventional drives are not optimal in terms of hygiene and cleaning. Either they have fans, cooling ribs or at least cooling surfaces. If necessary, the transmission even has a protective hood. This is dangerous because dead spaces are formed where germs can ideally nest. Drum motors completely eliminate these potential hazards. 

Where guarding and obstacles create limited access to standard geared motors on production lines cleaning cannot be thoroughly undertaken and as a result, it is not uncommon to see cooling ribs completely clogged with product residues. Even the fan cowling attracts process dust and needs frequent removal for effective cleaning.

Safety in operation

There are no protrusions and main component parts are totally enclosed within a Rulmeca drum motor. With the external shafts held captive in a conveyor frame, the only moving part is the body of the pulley running under the conveyor belt. Conveyors can be designed in such a way preventing any of the drive pulley to be visible, resulting in an extremely safe method to drive conveyor belts.

They also grant more safety when compared to traditional multiple component motor transmissions systems.


The fully sealed design of the drum motor ensures that internal parts are not exposed to external environmental conditions or tampering. The motor, bearings and gearbox are enclosed in the roller casing that is partially filled with oil to act as a constant lubricant and refrigerant to dissipate away the heat through the shell and the conveyor belt.

A completely self-contained unit, requiring no maintenance throughout its service lifetime.

With fewer parts to consider, conveyor design and assembly is easier and quicker, procurement is also simplified reducing overall costs.

Applications and options

Rulmeca’s internally powered Drum Motor has been developed for demanding applications in distribution centres, airport and postal logistics, automation applications, food process and package handling, as but a few examples.

Rulmeca Drum Motors can be used to drive different types of conveyor belt. They have a crowned shell as standard to drive traditional PVC, Polyurethane belts etc. and to aid tracking

With totally stainless steel versions and being hermetically sealed, Drum Motors are ideally applied into the food industry, for hygiene and easy cleaning and used to drive plastic modular or positively driven belts.

For these belts the shell is cylindrical with a selection of:-

- stainless steel sprockets fixed by a key welded along the shell

- white or blue hot vulcanized rubber lagging which is FDA approved, with linear grooves profiled to suit the most popular brands of modular belt.

Drum Motors can also be used in non-belt applications, utilizing de-rated motors or Inverter drives with cylindrical or flat shells.

Rulmeca Motorised Drums have many options such as: rubber lagging, integrated encoders, electromagnetic brakes and frequency converters. They are certified according to EC directive and have a guarantee of 2 years.

Having worked in the materials handling component industry for many years, Rulmeca UK Unit Handling General Manager - Grahame Halligan was enthusiastic when he finally summarised commented: "It’s a great product backed up with a great service.  Rulmeca manufacture from 9 production companies and 10 sales companies, serving clients in 85 countries.  We are there whenever, wherever you need us.”



Search for a product/supplier:
-March 2020+