Case Studies

Revolutionizing Efficiency: Orbis Machinery’s Direct Drive Ball Mills


In the ever-evolving landscape of industrial operations, efficiency and reliability are paramount. Recently, a prominent customer approached Orbis Machinery with a significant expansion project that required several ball mills. The project aimed to test the performance of a single production machine before committing to subsequent orders. The customer’s key concerns centered around limited space and ease of maintenance.

The Challenge

The customer’s existing operation relied on standard bull gear and pinion drives, even for their smaller ball mills. This setup posed several challenges:

  1. Space Constraints: The existing gear setup occupied considerable space, complicating the integration of additional equipment.
  2. Maintenance Hassles: Operating in a dusty environment led to frequent production shutdowns for cleaning and lubricating the pinion and bull gear. This not only increased downtime but also led to premature gear wear due to grit in the air.
  3. Noise and Safety: Open gear drives generated significant noise and posed safety risks due to exposed moving parts.

Orbis Machinery’s Solution

Orbis Machinery proposed a groundbreaking solution: their first large-size ball mill (6 ft. diameter x 8 ft. long), driven by a Hollow Bore Fully Enclosed Shaft Mount Direct Drive Gearbox and a C-face Mounted motor. This innovative approach promised to address the customer’s concerns effectively.

Orbis Machinery LLC direct drive ball mills

Advantages of Direct Drive Gearboxes

    1. Reduced Maintenance: The direct drive gearbox’s enclosed design minimizes the exposure of moving parts to external elements. Regular maintenance involves simple oil changes based on operating hours, reducing both downtime and costs.
    2. Compactness: The direct drive gearbox is more compact, making it ideal for environments with limited space.
    3. Efficiency: With higher efficiency, the direct drive gearbox enhances the overall performance and energy savings of the machinery.
    4. Noise Reduction: The enclosed design significantly dampens operational noise, leading to a quieter work environment.
    5. Precision: Enhanced control over speed and torque, along with better positioning of the ball mill cylinder, is achieved through the direct drive gearbox’s tight gear backlash.
    6. Safety: Enclosing the moving parts adds an extra layer of safety, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Implementation and Results:

The first unit was delivered and installed successfully. Its compact design, rugged construction, and ease of maintenance quickly impressed the customer. The direct drive gearbox outperformed the traditional bull gear and pinion drives, addressing all initial concerns:

        • Maintenance: The simplified maintenance routine reduced downtime significantly.
        • Space Efficiency: The compact design facilitated easier integration within the existing setup.
        • Performance: The enhanced efficiency and precision improved the overall productivity of the operation.
        • Noise and Safety: The reduced noise levels and improved safety measures created a better working environment

Long-Term Success

The outstanding performance of the first unit led the customer to request that all future ball mills be supplied by Orbis Machinery. Over the past 10 years, Orbis Machinery has continued to deliver direct drive ball mills for both new projects and as replacements for outdated equipment. The consistent success and reliability of these mills have cemented Orbis Machinery’s reputation as a leader in innovative industrial solutions.


Orbis Machinery’s direct drive ball mills have revolutionized the customer’s operations, offering a perfect blend of efficiency, precision, and safety. This case study underscores the importance of innovative engineering in overcoming industrial challenges and enhancing productivity.

For more information about our solutions and how we can help transform your operations, visit our website or contact us today.

Case Study #2

Doubling Efficiency in the Same Footprint: Orbis Machinery’s Innovative Production Solution

Orbis Machinery LLC - production output increased by over 50%, fulfilling the customers growing needs without the extra space

Orbis Machinery leads the way in custom industrial process solutions, specializing in mixing applications for materials with high viscosity of 10 million plus centipoise. Our innovative engineering addresses critical space and capacity challenges, handling temperatures up to 750°F (400°C). This case study reveals how we customized advanced replacement mixers for a client, boosting their production capacity significantly while operating within the existing spatial limitations. Faced with these constraints and needing a significant production boost, the client sought Orbis Machinery’s expertise. Our solution was to design and implement advanced mixers that fit within the pre-existing space, thereby amplifying output production substantially. This transformative solution epitomizes Orbis Machinery’s dedication to innovation, operational excellence, and customer satisfaction, showcasing the strategic and technical acumen that propels our success in the process equipment industry.

Customer Overview:

Operating in a high-demand industry of recycled products, the customer required precise and efficient mixing capabilities coupled with extruding to meet escalating production goals. However, their existing mixer extruders, which took up valuable space, fell short in meeting rising production demands.


The central issue was the space and capacity constraints. The existing mixers could no longer support the required production volume, and expanding the facility was not an immediate option. The imperative was to find a solution that could maximize the existing space and significantly boost production capacity.

Orbis Machinery’s Solution:

Orbis Machinery undertook a comprehensive analysis of the customer’s needs and the current setup. The solution involved custom-designed replacement mixers that maintained the footprint of the old units but incorporated advanced technology to increase production by more than 50%. 

Key features of the new mixers included:

          • Innovative blade design for more efficient mixing.
          • Optimized drive configuration to enhance power delivery and efficiency.
          • Abrasion-resistant coatings to prolong the mixer’s lifespan.
Orbis Machinery LLC direct drive ball mills


The installation of Orbis Machinery’s replacement mixers led to a host of improvements:

        • Increased Production Efficiency: Production output increased by over 50%, meeting the customer’s expanding needs without requiring additional space.
        • Space Utilization: The solution averted the immediate need for facility expansion, saving significant costs and logistical challenges.
        • Enhanced Operational Performance: Improvements in heating flow and surface area, along with flexible drive configurations, resulted in a more efficient mixing process.
        • Durability and Maintenance: Auger design enhancements and abrasion-resistant coatings reduced wear and tear. Mixer components became interchangeable, easing maintenance.
        • Corrosion Resistance: The use of alternative materials like stainless steel combated corrosive environments, improving the mixer’s longevity.
        • Inventory and Cost Reduction: A more streamlined design meant fewer replacement parts were needed, decreasing inventory costs.
        • Installation Efficiency: An integrated manifold system in each mixer reduced reliance on external contractors and shortened installation times from weeks to days.

Technical Insights:

The innovative blade design and drive configuration were central to the mixer’s enhanced performance, enabling smoother and quieter operation. The optimized load curves maintained efficiency while accommodating increased production demands.

Handling Corrosion:

A significant technical challenge was the corrosion caused by hydrochloric acid gas produced during the mixing process. Orbis Machinery’s solution utilized corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel, especially in critical areas such as feed and discharge tubes, to mitigate the destructive effects of the acid.


Orbis Machinery’s custom-designed mixers addressed the customer’s space and capacity challenges and established a new benchmark for operational efficiency and production capability in their industry. This illustrates how Orbis Machinery’s innovative approach and technical acumen deliver solutions that drive client success and operational excellence.

At Orbis Machinery, we’re not just about creating industry-leading equipment; we’re about fostering partnerships that drive innovation and efficiency in your operations. Ready to take the next step towards optimizing your operations? Connect with us today to discuss how Orbis Machinery can tailor solutions to meet your unique needs and challenges.

Case Study #3

Evaluation of 750 Gallon Aaron Process Split Level Mixer

Client was moving operations from PA to a new facility in IL. A vintage process mixer illustrated considerable wear and was to be placed out of commission for the purchase of a new machine. Orbis Machinery, LLC evaluated the mixer and determined the existing unit was repairable. The scope of work developed as such:

Phase 1, Timeline: 2 Weeks, Scope of work: Disassembly
  • Sandblast, disassemble, clean and inspect all mixer components
  • Hydrostatic test and thickness measurement of jacket and bowl
  • Clean discharge valve assembly.
  • Motor inspection and no load test run.
  • Document and provide Client with detailed inspection report.

After determination was made that the mixer could in fact be rebuilt. Client moved forward with the order to commence the project.

AP750 BeforeAP750 After
Phase 2 (Mixer Assembly), Timeline: 5 Weeks to complete, Scope of work: Reconditioning & Assembly
  • Fabricate new cover assembly for mixer
  • Recondition both blades.
    • Dye Penetrant test blade hubs
    • Resurface shaft seal areas (packing)-weld buildup
    • Check Run-Out of each blade
    • Build up blade tips as needed
    • Flame spray and build up worn areas of shafts. Machine back to tolerance.
    • Machine new keyways in shafts and supply new keys
    • Spur gears have uneven wear on work face of teeth. Tooth profile still at 90%. Install gearing with faces rotated and opposite side of tooth being used.
  • Repair and grind radial surfaces of bowl.
  • Paint all usable mixer components with Sherwin Williams Pure White 2 part epoxy.
  • Motor to be completely rebuilt and rewound with heavier class insulation. 2 year warranty provided.
  • Assemble Mixer
  • Repack gland housings
  • Replace Motor Sprocket and bushing
  • Replace Gearbox Sprocket and bushing
  • Replace Drive Belt
  • Replace Drive Coupling
  • Replace Intermediate (outboard) support bearing NOTE: Pillow block housing to be reused
  • Replace (2) drive end support bearings NOTE: Pillow block housings to be reused
  • Replace (2) idle end support bearings NOTE: Pillow block housings to be reused
  • Replace Gear case flange bearing
  • Replace Gear case seals
  • Provide all new fasteners
  • No load test run of assembled unit.
  • Mount new cover and safety grates. Add swing bolts and hold down tabs.
  • Load mixer on truck for shipping

Final Outcome: Client saves 70% of the cost of a new mixer. Total turnaround time 7 weeks versus 26 plus weeks for delivery of a new mixer.