Modern Engineering maintenance planning is a marathon not a sprint, so MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) specialists are usually looking for long term reliability rather than a quick fix that may not last the distance. Application environment is a key factor in selecting an adequate long term solution, especially for a transmission component like a chain. Derek Mack, Sales Director for Tsubaki UK, considers the effect of various working environments on chains in application.
In our daily lives we know that if we buy a cheap product it is unlikely to last as long as one with a quality pedigree behind it. In the commercial and industrial world, we quantify this as total cost of ownership (TCO) – initial purchase cost, plus running and maintenance costs over the life of the product, plus replacement costs and production downtime.
Again, referring to our daily lives, we instinctively know that we can use a budget product in non-demanding duties, but when the going gets tough quality goods will be required. In industrial parlance we would refer to a harsh working environment, which for a chain could include dust, water, heat, cold, aggregates, shock impact loads and harsh chemicals. So, what challenges do different industries suffer?
Heavy industries typically have tough working environments: steel mills can be so hot that any metal component can be weakened; it is virtually impossible to keep dust and grit out of machinery in mines and quarries; marine and shoreside environments will always have salt corrosion potential. Meat storage facilities will be refrigerated so lubrication is often problematic.
Modern industries are not without difficulties either. Electronic production uses some harsh chemicals, as do paint shops and pickling (surface treatment) plants. Many manufacturing processes requires stop/start machine cycles, so shock loads are inevitable. Logistics and materials handling can be hard and physical.
From this we can see that virtually every working environment has its own set of challenges, so it is no surprise that Tsubaki produces a range of industrial chains each designed to address a particular environmental condition. Thus, MRO engineers can select a chain appropriate to working conditions, and this will reduce running and maintenance costs while also optimising life expectancy.
For example, Tsubaki’s Lambda lube-free chain has established itself as a firm favourite in many different industries and applications. Its sintered bushes are impregnated with lubricant which aid efficient running and long life yet cannot leak oil to contaminate products such as foodstuffs, clothing, paper items, coloured surfaces or packaging.
With so much chain deployed in wet, humid and chemically aggressive environments Tsubaki has developed Neptune which uses a special resin coating for superb corrosion and chemical resistance. Each part of a Neptune chain is individually surface treated (unlike chains that are surface treated after assembly) so that the whole chain is resistant and there are no inclusions where corrosion can start.
It is regularly used in applications where water is present, in mushroom farms where humidity is usually 90% or higher, fresh and frozen food plants, for outdoor materials handling and other similar applications.
Heavy duty chain is a must in physically demanding applications such as mining, rig drilling, bulk handling, steel manufacturing, agriculture, wastewater treatment and marine environments. Tsubaki has a long history of developing and constantly improving chain to meet the demands of each market.
Tsubaki has long understood that if you match a chain to its environment you will optimise long term performance and minimise life time costs. The consequent increases in productivity can be quantified as a monetary saving over time for any given application and is usually manna to any boss’s ear.
Very often, the greatest challenge is convincing the budget holders to invest in specialist chain, but once the benefits are appreciated and the performance proven, the arguments for more ‘cost-effective’ alternative soon evaporate.
In short, MRO engineers can make a significant contribution to their company’s productivity and profitability by picking the best chain for each application.
Established in 1917, Tsubakimoto Chain Company is the world’s premier manufacturer of power transmission products with strong market positions in premium quality industrial drive & conveyor chains and associated power transmission components such as cam clutches, reducers & linear actuators. With a turnover exceeding $1,5 Billion US Dollars & 6,500 employees, the Tsubaki group includes 33 manufacturing locations and 77 group companies worldwide. Our production and sales networks are now more developed than ever.
Tsubakimoto Europe B.V. serves Power Transmission customers in the Pan-European market, Africa and the Middle East from European headquarters located in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, along with a local subsidiary based in Nottingham, serving the UK market & Ireland and from the office in Unterföhring, Germany customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are served. Customers in Spain and Portugal are served by our office in Madrid, Spain.
The image(s) distributed with this press release may only be used to accompany this copy, and are subject to copyright. Please contact DMA Europa if you wish to license the image for further use.
Lube-free chain offers alternative to special food grade lubricants
The use of specialist Food grade lubricants within food manufacturing is vital to ensure food products are fit for human consumption. However; they are highly expensive and often wasteful, so here Peter de Blok, Sales Director EMEA for Tsubakimoto Europe B.V. discusses a possible alternative.
Legislation surrounding the manufacture or processing of foodstuffs is rightfully strict.
One of the main principles of product safety in food manufacturing is to ensure the use of wholesome ingredients. Naturally, this means that there has to be a follow-on principle, to the effect that any other material that could get into the finished product by accident should not be dangerous to health. Therefore, manufacturers should have processes in place to prevent the incorporation of visible foreign bodies, and there is also the issue of trace materials that are harder to detect and address.
One such potential trace material is the oil or grease used to lubricate the production machinery. In fact, it is sometimes inevitable that some lubricant will find its way into the finished food products. Therefore, it is necessary that food processing machinery uses lubricants that are not harmful when consumed by humans.
Manufacturers of lubrication make special food grade products and there are laws and industry standards that manage their use. Regulations vary from country to country, but essentially there are three main categories of lubricants used in the food industry.
- H1 lubricants – Lubricants that may have incidental contact with the food being produced, so must not be harmful.
- H2 lubricants – Lubricants which must not contact the food, so can only be used in closed systems
- H3 soluble oils – Oils which can be used to clean or protect equipment that contacts food, but which must be washed off before the equipment is used.
Buying-in and managing the use of food grade lubricants is an expense and requires responsible oversight. Thus, managers in the food processing industry may be able to gain a competitive edge if they can drive efficiencies into these tasks, whilst maintaining suitable high standards.
One proven way to do this is with the use of drive or conveyor chain that is supplied with a food grade self-lubrication feature. Such a chain is designed to be permanently lubricated so that it does not need to be re-lubricated during its working life.
While this may seem intuitively to be a very minor gain, calculations about the time and manpower required to carry out such relubrication to a regular schedule, plus the cost of the special lubricant, show that in fact there is a notable saving to be made. Furthermore, this saving can often be multiplied many-fold when you add in the cost of lost production time, and potential to the life of chain product by having continuous lubrication applied from within. However, even this figure could pale into insignificance if you consider the cost and reputational damage that could be caused by a major product recall.
Tsubaki first introduced lubricated-for-life chain (often referred to as lube-free chain) thirty years ago. It quickly proved very popular and has gone on to become almost a de facto industry standard for many applications. Never one to rest on its laurels, Tsubaki has a policy of constantly refining and developing all of its products, including the Lambda range of lube-free chains.
The core concept of the Lambda design is the use of an oil impregnated sintered bush. This is self-lubricating for the life of the chain and, importantly, retains the vast majority of the lubricant within the chain rather than it leaking out to potentially contaminate products, packaging and other items.
Now in its sixth generation of design, all Lambda chain is lubricated with NSF-H1 food grade lubricant impregnated into the bushes as standard, with H3 oil impregnation being available on request. This makes the Tsubaki Lambda Chain series perfectly suitable for applications in the food industry.
Significantly, Lambda is designed to be able to withstand moderate washdown routines used in the food industry. It can also operate perfectly in temperatures up to 150°C as standard, with higher temperature versions available should they be required for extreme environments.
Other advantages of Lambda include a patented ring coining production process applied to the connecting links, which significantly increases the chain’s strength, reducing the likelihood of breakage and consequent lost production; easy assembly and rapid fitting; long life, leading to reduced replacement cost over time; no maintenance requirements and clean running for reduced risk of product or environmental contamination.Lambda is completely interchangeable with standard BS roller chains, so can be adopted onto existing machinery without any re-engineering. Similarly, Lambda can be used with standard BS roller chain sprockets, although due to the extended lifetime of BS Lambda chain, Tsubaki recommends the installation of sprockets with hardened teeth that will match the chain for longevity.
Lambda chains impregnated with food grade lubricant have been used in many food manufacturing installations and have produced advantages in terms of reduced maintenance, security against product contamination and significant cost savings. Like earlier versions of Lambda, Tsubaki is expecting this food safe, high-performance chain to increasingly become the only product of choice for many users.
Tsubaki chain wear indicators now available in large sizes
Tsubaki, the leading manufacturer of high quality industrial train and power transmission components, has expanded its line-up of chain wear indicators with the addition of larger sizes.
The new BS Large Size Indicator is available in sizes RS20B to RS48B and the ANSI Large Size Indicator – covers sizes from RS100 to RS240. These complement the existing BS Set which is used with sizes RF06B to RS16B and the ANSI Set for sizes RS35 to RS80. The new large size indicators are available to purchase as individual items, rather than as part of a set.
The Tsubaki Chain Wear Indicator enables plant and machinery engineers to measure roller chain condition and determine critical wear in one simple operation. In use one end is shaped to fit snuggly over a roller and the tip of the other end indicates the degree of wear by highlighting the total elongation over a number of links. As such, they are a valuable tool for helping keep machinery in top condition and for minimising unexpected chain failures that could lead to costly production downtime.
All hard working roller chain will stretch over time, and equally it is inevitable that the sprockets with which it engages will wear. The stretch will cause a loss of tension, reducing the transmission efficiency. This wear is likely to cause loss of alignment accuracy for the overall drive system, leading to repercussions in positioning and locating duties, reduced efficiency and an increase in noise and vibration. If wear increases to a critical point the chain will begin riding and jumping on the sprockets which causes shock loads, which in turn will further accelerate wear.
These problems are avoided by regularly monitoring the chain for stretch and changing it before problems become manifest. Tsubaki’s chain wear indicator gauges are made to high quality specifications and are resistant to corrosion. Their robust construction ensures accurate measuring every time over a long working life.
Pin Oven Chains for the Beverage Can Industry
Cans are still the »classic» drinks packaging choice in the food and beverage industry. After forming, one of the next high-speed production processes the cans undergo is painting. Specially-developed roller chains have become the preferred conveying technology for this rapid transfer, during which the cans are held in place by protective heads connected to the chain by special transport pins.
The pin oven chains (POC) developed by iwis offer a number of unique advantages. The precision roller chains themselves are particularly wear-resistant and they are treated with the iwis special lubricant IPP before they leave the factory. IPP is PWIS-free, non-drip, suitable for high temperatures and approved for use in the food industry.
Transport pins can be replaced easily without breaking the chain or removing it from the machine. Three different fixture possibilities are available – pins are integrated in the outer chain plates, secured with special nuts or fixed with split-pins. Users can also choose between two pin versions: flexible or snap-off. The flexible pin – for example after an accidental impact caused by a conveyor jam – can be quickly and easily bent back to its originally position by hand. The advantage of the snap-off pin is that it will break off in the event of a shock or accidental contact with an obstacle during operation. The snap-of solution is possible because both transport pins and chain pins have the hardness and thus the same wear resistance. This can be of importance when producing steel cans with a risk of jamming the production machines, when the pins do not break. The length of the transport pins can also be adapted to the requirements of individual specifications.
Finally, the standard protective head is made from high-quality PEEK which is heatproof up to at least 260 °C and is resistant to a variety of chemicals. A high-temperature elastomer head (ECT) developed and pa-tented by iwis is also available as an alternative. With its design, it can be replaced easily without the need for complex tools and it is robust in everyday operation because its damping properties are similar to those of a spring. It is made from PWIS-free material that is approved for use in contact with food.
Well-equipped in every respect: a comprehensive range of spare parts and user-friendly tools for assembling and dismantling chains round off the iwis pin oven chain programme.
iwis is always able to offer can manufacturers a high-quality conveyor chain solution that is tailormade for their individual application requirements. The hallmark of quality: all production series use JWIS brand precision roller chains, so long service life and reliable aftersales service are guaranteed.
In addition to pin oven chains, Munich-based chain specialist iwis provides a full product range for all drive and conveying applications. This also includes precision and high-performance roller chains, conveyor chains, maintenance-free and corrosion-resistant chains, power and free conveyor chains, special-purpose conveyor chains, flyer chains, flat-top chains, modular belts, chains and accessories for agricultural machinery, and timing drives for the automotive industry.
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