Battle-Ready: ROTRON® Transportation SLP Sealless Pump with Brushless DC Motor Provides “Bulletproof” Solution to Field Failures

Avoiding downtime and unbudgeted maintenance costs over the life of a bus is essential for any transit authority. One way to ensure optimal vehicle uptime and operational savings is to choose reliable replacement parts for bus fleets.

Kirks hears many stories about brands customers have tried but have yet to succeed. We were curious about why customers replaced their failed pumps and motors with ROTRON® Transportation products.

Additionally, KIRKS wanted to understand how ROTRON® Transportation pumps and motors are successfully being used in EV (electric vehicle) and fuel-cell hybrid bus fleets.

Going to the Source: Interview with  the Designer and Manufacturer of ROTRON® Transportation Products

Bob Kirkman, Co-President of KIRKS, joined in an interview with Steve Griffiths, the Bison® Business Development Manager for ROTRON® Transportation products. 

As most are already aware, AMETEK Dynamic Fluid Solutions designed and manufactured the first sealless pump and brushless DC motor technologies for heavy-duty buses under the ROTRON® Transportation brand name. For decades, these fluid-moving devices have become the go-to products in the industry, helping fleet operators reduce downtime and lower operational costs.

In May, AMETEK Dynamic Fluid Solutions combined with the newly acquired company — Bison Gear & Engineering to form a new AMETEK business named Bison.®

A “Military-Grade” Pump Design Wins Customer Trust

We spoke at length with Steve about the ROTRON® Transportation SLP Sealless Pump. Applications include transit buses, construction and mining vehicles, and more. Bison® differentiates the product from competitors in the following ways:

  • A coolant pump circulates fluids within various electrical or propulsion cooling systems. Most manufacturers use a mechanical seal design and dynamic contact seals that can deteriorate.
  • ROTRON® Transportation SLP Sealless Pump’s electromagnetically coupled design means there is no wet seal. When properly installed, the pump encloses the fluid, preventing leakage that surpasses other manufacturers.
  • The ROTRON® Transportation wet rotor design improves pump operation. A wet rotor motor provides both temperature management and bearing system lubrication. Bison’s careful design and assembly ensures no solids ever reach the fluid-lubricated bearings. 
  • Lastly, Bison® encases the pump in cast aluminum. It also features a bronze and stainless-steel impeller. Most other manufacturers use plastic. Griffiths explained, “Some only want to do enough to get by versus doing it right. They use plastics extensively to hold down cost, but do so at the expense of quality,” he continued. “Bison still uses a lot of metal.” 

Reengineering Motors for Longer Life

Bison® utilizes a brushless design with a magnetically coupled rotor. It has no contact or wearing surfaces. This design eliminates another potential failure point. The result is an extended lifespan with zero maintenance.

The ROTRON® Transportation sealed pump motors do not use the old carbon brush with a rotating copper commutator connection. That design requires maintenance. Ongoing physical contact between the brush and the rotating copper connection causes wear and tear. Further, the constant switching action across inductive circuits creates unwanted electrical and electromagnetic noise. 

Bison® combines unique design considerations to produce a quiet, leak-free pump with brushless motor technology requiring no maintenance. “You folks build the best,” said Bob Kirkman. “When we visit maintenance facilities, we’ve seen the pumps from other brands lying around. ROTRON® Transportation is clearly superior.”

Griffiths gave us some recent examples of customer feedback. “We had an opportunity with a client in Canada who earlier bought a competitor pump for half price. They called to place an order with us for hundreds of thousands of dollars. When asked why they were switching to the ROTRON® Transportation pump, they replied, because ‘you folks build the tank.’”

The Bison® Approach to Bulletproofing Quality: Testing and Rating

Pump failures can lead to unwanted consequences. To succeed, a manufacturer must have a long-term commitment to quality and prove it daily. Anyone can use cheaper parts and skip quality checks to save cost, but at what expense? 

According to Steve Griffiths, Bison® sources only premium materials. They also subject their pumps to rigorous quality control at every manufacturing stage. Testing includes checking for leakage, assessing electromagnetic interference and acoustics, validating shock and vibration resistance, and ensuring they resist snow, salt, fog, and other issues. These environmentally-sealed SLP pumps achieved an IP67 rating. They resist water immersion for 30 minutes.

Occasionally, pump failures occur. Root cause analysis showed that about 90% resulted from customers sealing the mounting connector improperly. “Following our updated installation guide is extremely important,” Steve said. “It includes outline drawings and instructions that are easy to follow.”

Riding the Green Mobility Wave

Studies published by Prescient and Strategic Intelligence predict growth in the U.S. electric bus market at a 30% compound annual rate through 2026. Massive government funding, environmental benefits, and emissions rules are driving it. And Bison® is perfectly positioned with their SLP brushless pump to ride the wave. 

For example, in California, where the requirement for air conditioning systems is 36,000 hours, Bison® promotes its 40,000-hour life ROTRON® Transportation SLP pumps. “Competitors in the EV market say they achieve that, but people come to Bison® because they can trust that ours delivers,” said Griffiths. If there is a problem, customers know Bison® backs them up and works through it. 

ROTRON® Transportation pumps and motors also help transit organizations meet the “Buy America” requirements contained in Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation Part 661. Funding from the 2022 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act promotes zero-emission EVs and hybrids. It is also boosting SLP sales. “Anyone accepting money from the DOT to buy an electric bus must ensure it has 70% U.S. content,” says Griffiths. Unlike European and Asian manufacturers, Bison® can certify compliance for customers. 

“Competitors in the EV market say they achieve California’s requirement, but people come to Bison® because they can trust that ours delivers.”

– Steve S. Griffiths, Business Development Manager for Bison ROTRON® Transportation Products

No Need to Look Further than ROTRON® Transportation SLP Pump by Bison®

Transit teams turn to ROTRON® Transportation products for solutions when everything else fails. KIRKS confidently partners with Bison® to provide outstanding products for our customers.

Here are our top ten reasons to choose ROTRON® Transportation pumps and motors by Bison®:

  • No maintenance – more uptime and labor cost savings. 
  • Longer lifespan – a brushless design and no seals to fail.
  • Greater reliability – fewer failures mean less downtime.
  • Higher efficiency – uses less energy, saving wear or money on fuel.
  • Brushless motor – removable from the pump without draining the fluid systems.
  • Leak-proof design paired with magnetic coupling.
  • Quieter noise level – improves the passenger experience. 
  • Lighter – only 6.7 pounds, reducing the weight of the bus. 
  • Built to withstand the harshest transportation environments.  
  • Peace of mind – finally.

“Having a long life with few problems is why I call these pumps ‘bulletproof.’ Complaints drop to zero when the parts perform long after competitor products have failed. The beauty of the Bison ROTRON products is that they stand up to the unexpected.”

– Bob Kirkman, Co-President, KIRKS

KIRKS Provides New and Remanufactured ROTRON 47- and 64-Frame ROTRON® Transportation Pumps.

KIRKS has been the factory-authorized remanufacturer for years, providing 47- and 64-Frame ROTRON® Transportation pumps serving traditional diesel markets and EV booster applications. 

We are here to help you escape the part trap. Contact us today and speak with a KIRKS product specialist. We are your partner for parts!

About Bison®

 For more than 100 years, Bison® has helped customers differentiate their products by developing robust, flexible, and durable motors, blowers, and pumps under the brand names – Bison® Gearmotors, Lamb®, Nautilair®, Prestolite Motors, ROTRON® Regenerative Blowers, ROTRON® Transportation and Windjammer®. Bison® engineers thrive on technical challenges and provide customers with collaborative, customizable, and optimized fluid-moving, fractional, and integral horsepower solutions. Bison® has worldwide sales representative support, research facilities, and manufacturing facilities in the United States, China, and Mexico. The company is headquartered in Kent, Ohio. 

Bison® is a business of AMETEK®, Inc. — a leading global provider of industrial technology solutions serving a diverse set of attractive niche markets with annual sales of over $6.0 billion.

About ROTRON® Transportation Pumps and Motors

For more than 75 years, Bison® has designed and manufactured ROTRON® brushless sealless pumps and brushless DC motors for heavy-duty transportation OEMs building trucks, buses, locomotives, light rail equipment, off-road vehicles, and more. Our ROTRON® transportation products offer long life up to 60,000 hours, CAN J1939 functionality, and maintenance-free designs. The fluid-moving technologies can be customized to OEM specs and are Buy America Compliant.