The next seal solution

Editorial

“The next sealing solution” is the title of this new issue of MTU dedicated to the aspects that make Meccanotecnica Umbra a major partner for the industrial application industry. These key aspects – together with a 10-year experience manufacturing reliable, efficient, and bespoke products – are part of an ever-evolving process that involves all the Group’s brands: Meccanotecnica, Fugesco and Huhnseal. 

We wanted to tell this story from the perspective of three plants (all of them focused on designing different solutions for the industrial market) in three continents. They will show you our testing processes, where expertise becomes excellence as a result of Meccanotecnica ’s experience and ambitious projects. A successful scenario has allowed Meccanotecnica to gain a prominent position in strategic segments, such as fluid handling, food and beverage, aerospace, oil extraction, and renewable energy. Enjoy! 

When expertise becomes strategic: test benches for the industrial sector.

Every Meccanotecnica Umbra project leaves an indelible mark. The development of a project involves every department, every competency, and every employee. This process has allowed us to grow our know-how and design skills. Every challenge can become a new source of knowledge, provided that the experience gained is put at the service of future projects. All this is embodied by four state-of-the-art test benches for different industrial sectors and projects that involve high temperatures, pressures and rotation speed. We have grown in these contexts, thanks to ambitious and specific projects. 

Stepping out of our comfort zone to explore new areas, like automotive or standard industrial applications, has forced us to use specific tools that can help us develop new products. That’s how our latest test bench came to life. This way, we can map out the seal performance even under median conditions or usability conditions other than those declared. Then, we complete the information with a component performance sheet and the technical specifications. 

The test bench provides us with strategic information that makes us stand out from the competition since only well-structured companies can provide this type of information.

This way, our clients can know the product in detail and make an informed decision based on its application. At the same time, our partners can better understand the performance of the product and its positioning on the market. 

This way, our clients can know the product in detail and make an informed decision based on its application. At the same time, our partners can better understand the performance of the product and its positioning on the market. 

Meccanotecnica Umbra is not just a supplier. We also provide technical support to solve any criticality.

This service becomes even more strategic when high-performance products and high design costs are involved. The bench for renewable energy and that for oil perforations are for us a challenge and a reason to be proud of since we’ve never operated in such extreme conditions, which are the standard for these sectors. Managing those systems was a challenge even in terms of safety.

The test bench for the aerospace sector was developed to test high-speed systems and consolidate our position within this segment. In some specific sectors and applications, sealing systems must be stable and ensure high performance for long periods at high speeds ranging between 10 k and 40k revs. Moreover, next-generation gearboxes must withstand increasingly demanding operating conditions. This is the case of helicopters for long-haul operations, which must ensure higher cruise speeds and performance, as well as longer endurance in critical and emergency conditions. This aspect impacts both the design of our products and the technical support we provide.

High-Speed ​​ Bench

A bench that can reach a speed of 40,000 revs, with a shaft seal measuring up to 50 mm in diameter. It allows for monitoring performance in both internal and external pressurisation conditions, even during atmospheric pressure rarefaction simulation.
> Aerospace sector

HIGH-TEMPERATURE bench

This bench can work with temperatures up to 500 °C and a pressure up to 40 bar. It can also simulate operating conditions for endurance tests (accelerated durability test with simulated rotation speed) and real speed conditions (reduced to 0 to simulate solar tracking for parabolic plants).
> Solar power plants using diathermic oil and molten salt

HIGH-PRESSURE bench

Pressure can safely reach up to 550 bar, which is standard for oil perforations. 
> O Shore and Off Shore perforation systems

New Bench for the industrial sector

New flexible test bench that allows us to test shaft seals ranging between 12 mm and 80 mm, where the temperature rises up to 130 °C and pressure up to 40 bar.  It also allows us to understand how the seal behaves in the application and simulate critical operating conditions.
> Industrial sector

A network of eccellence: from India, Meccanotecnica group's pervasive design.

Meccanotecnica Umbra Group works synergistically and is not bound to top-down or centralised structures. Watching how the Internet of Things is evolving, we can define this concept as a sort of Internet of Projects. A branched and widespread structure where everybody is involved. We can define it as a network of thoughts and projects that goes beyond commercial purposes. This is even clearer if you observe the peripheral branches, which are not only executive or commercial structures, but also essential parts of the Group’s strategic and methodological vision.

Since 2013, Huhnseal – Meccanotecnica Group’s flagship – has been relying on the Pune unit in India, which develops projects for both the local and global market and is coordinated by the managers of the technical office in Sweden. What was supposed to be just technical and commercial consultancy for the Indian market turned out to be an opportunity for implementing the Group’s design skills. Even the first team of engineers were trained and integrated into the workflow of both Huhnseal and Meccanotecnica. 

Today, the Pune plant is not only the place where seals and components are designed but also where research and development activities are carried out. It’s the place where new concepts and solutions that go beyond the specific seal design are found.

As a result, we had to add new members to the staff and improve our technical skills to optimise our lead times with an agile structure and ensure a high level of expertise. In 2014, we decided to seize commercial opportunities in this country, being aware of the ultra-competitive context (Mumbai alone counts over 80 mechanical seal manufacturers), in which Huhnseal/Meccanotecnica offering had to clash with the ruthless price war. Our offering for OE clients, which consisted in granting the entire property of the product and thus the aftermarket exclusive, did not find favourable conditions, unlike in China, Europe, and the US. However, this strategy remains successful in most markets, and we believe that changing it would be a mistake. With this situation, Huhnseal/Meccanotecnica’s impact is giving satisfactory results when it comes to integrating research and development processes for other markets and supporting the design department:

a strong presence in terms of technical skills, expertise, work and project perspective. The team is young and strong and includes 8 members.

Quality control: a successful filigree.

Ambitious projects allow us to leave our old habits behind and exceed our limits. This is how we grow and improve our expertise. Quality control is a sort of observatory where we can monitor processes and relationships with clients and suppliers. We can observe how new challenges lead to growth, knowledge, experience and new technical skills and see why working in symbiosis with clients and suppliers is so important.

The first project that Fugesco has developed for Andritz Hydro USA – a world-leading manufacturer of machines generating hydroelectric power – falls within this category. We manufactured both the seal, based on the client’s drawing and the housing of some accessories, going beyond what we usually do. This project turned out to be extremely demanding. With a shaft measuring about 760 mm in diameter and a housing with an outer diameter of 1.8 m, these dimensions hard to handle, even if in the past Fugesco has worked with even larger sizes.

In this type of project, quality control is essential

to exceed the client’s inspections, deliver impeccable documentation, and add external supplies to a strong process. Quality-related documentation is like a filigree that follows the entire process. It allows us to spot any problem and provides an overview of all work stages.

Fugesco creates projects based on the client’s specifications. That’s why different clients will never get the same product.

This is how Meccanotecnica Group works, and how we can complete ambitious projects in terms of dimensions and importance. Adapting our processes to those of our partners is not an easy task, but it’s incredibly gratifying. Every project allows us to exceed our limits. Quality control is also strategic for building awareness of what we can do and the excellence we can achieve. Fugesco belongs to the Meccanotecnica Group and is where important research projects are carried out to improve our seals, focusing on their material.

Today, carbon is the standard, but other materials can meet new requirements and reduce friction torque, improving the seal’s durability and performance.

Faithful to Mecccanotecnica’s vision, Fugesco has never stopped its activities, designing a new large test bench for seals with shafts having a diameter of 700-800 mm, and fine-tuning new materials, such as Black Diamond, which has been successfully tested in other applications. This is another contribution to enhance Meccatronica Umbra’s potential in the industrial market.

Huhnseal GmBH: a network of excellence from Germany.

Meccanotecnica Umbra’s widespread network has seized the opportunities provided by various international fields. This has allowed the Group to meet market requirements and overcome production, language and cultural differences with clients and partners. The Group’s presence in Germany started in 2018 after a business unit acquisition. It was all about seizing the opportunity when Nidec GPM decided to sell its unit for the production of industrial mechanical seals because 99% of its core business was in the automotive sector. 

The Group’s base in Germany has been essential also from a commercial point of view. At least four out of ten Huhnseal/Meccanotecnica’s clients are German. Even if everything is managed from Sweden, having a base in Germany, relying on local employees with the possibility to manufacture components on-site, has been crucial.

The acquired business unit was already in line with the Group’s principles, meaning building relationships with new clients and selling exclusively customised mechanical seals. Thanks to this acquisition, we could enter the market of screw compressors for the industrial refrigeration industry. This is a new sector for us, whose mechanical seal solutions are in line with the products that Huhnseal manufactures in Sweden with the innovative technology dedicated to twin-screw pumps. Incorporating this business unit was a natural step to reach a new frontier for new applications. Thanks to the seal’s materials and characteristics developed for compressors, we could acquire the expertise for staying in this market segment. That’s how Huhnseal GmbH started: three partners who joined their forces to build a company that is increasingly growing. Acquiring a business unit is different from acquiring a company. It’s a process that comes with a series of complications. 

However, we can consider it a successful move. Today, thanks to Huhnseal GmbH, the MTU group can be a competitive player also in the refrigerant compressor market.

The expertise of the people involved allowed us to improve our production capacity, thanks to a production unit that supports small production runs while ensuring expansion in the German market and managing existing Huhnseal clients in Germany.


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