Schaeffler plant produces one millionth ball screw drive

Precision bearings and automotive components supplier The Schaeffler Group has reached an important milestone after the company produced its one millionth ball screw drive for electromechanical steering systems.

Manufactured at the Herzogenaurach plant since 2007, Schaeffler's energy efficient ball screw drive is being utilised on the electromechanical steering system for the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Schaeffler supplies the ball screw drive to Volkswagen, as well as a toothed rack, which is partly designed as a spindle on which the drive is located. Ball screw drives are used to transform rotary motion into linear motion through a direct coupling between the drive element and the output element. In the Tiguan, the ball nut is driven by a servomotor, which is linked to the ball screw drive via a belt.

The low friction, low noise ball screw drives play a role in helping to improve a vehicle's fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions. As well as offering the driver optimised handling, the latest electromechanical steering systems can also reduce fuel consumption by as much as 3% compared to conventional hydraulic steering systems.

A key advantage of an electromechanical steering system over a hydraulic one is that the servomotors require energy only when specific steering manoeuvres are carried out, whilst hydraulic pumps need to maintain hydraulic pressure at all times, therefore demanding more energy. This means that pumps and feeds are no longer required on an electromechanical system, which reduces the space required for operating the steering system.

Other customers of Schaeffler's first one million ball screw drives include automotive supplier TRW. The ball screw drives are not only used in Europe, but also on vehicles manufactured in the US by Volkswagen, Ford and BMW. The aerospace sector is another major user of high precision ball screw drives, which are often found in an aircraft's tail steering system.

Chris Shaw

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