A leading German automotive components manufacturer produces a range of vehicle parts, including wheel carriers, controls arms and pump housings for use by many global automotive brands, using mainly steel and aluminium blanks. Once installed in the vehicle, many of these parts will be subjected to harsh conditions, and they have to endure extreme wear and friction. Therefore, to ensure end-user safety, the materials must be of the highest quality and the production process needs to be carried out in a highly predictable and repeatable manner.
To maintain the transfer speed and quality of the hot steel blanks, the production process needs to run like clockwork. Once the raw materials have been prepared, they are transported to the annealing furnace where they are heated to 1,200 °C, until they are glowing red with heat. They are then conveyed to the rollers, which press the steel to achieve a uniform thickness. The parts are then transferred to the forge for shaping and finally moved on for deburring.
The smooth running of this process is largely reliant on the conveyor chains that interlink the different stages of production. To ensure that each part reaches the next stage at optimal temperature, the conveyor belts have to move at very high speeds. Unfortunately, however, the harsh operating environment put the standard OEM chains the manufacturer used under severe strain. The chains stretched under the red-hot metal, the steel dust and soot created by the manufacturing process stuck to the joints, and the sprocket teeth rubbed off on the pinions, quickly wearing the chain out.
This meant that the manufacturer had to replace the conveyor belts nearly every three months. The removal of the old chain, the cleaning of the facility, and the assembly of the new chain put production on hold for up to six hours at a time, costing thousands of euros.
To eliminate this unplanned downtime and recurring cost, the manufacturer turned to Renold for an alternative solution.
To overcome the problem caused by the excess heat and the wear from the high operating speed, Renold suggested using its tooth chain. The chain has been designed to operate flawlessly in extreme temperatures, so it was ideally suited for conveying the burning-hot products from the spool to the rolling machine. The chain’s involute teeth eliminate engagement errors of the chain expanding under heat, and the sprockets are made of vacuum-hardened, high-alloyed tool steel, optimising wear resistance.
Unlike most chains, the Renold tooth chain doesn’t require regular lubrication. That made it ideal for the application, as the hot manufacturing environment would cause the lubricant to char, resulting in premature wear and unnecessary pollution.
The manufacturer opted for Renold chains in the standard widths of 85mm and 100mm, with the longest one measuring 10 meters with a centre distance of 5 meters. The chains move at speeds of up to 1 m/second to accommodate the high production rate of 15 seconds. To further enhance security, Renold duplicated the middle guide of the transport chain, so that each chain link has a guide that engages in the groove of the sprocket. This helps eliminate the risk of the chain being pushed to the side when the long wheelbase and the workpieces slide across the conveyor belt and further reduces wear to the guide plates.
Switching to Renold tooth chains has enabled the manufacturer to unlock a new level of productivity and reliability. Before, over 24 hours of production time was wasted each year, as the chains would unexpectedly wear out, needing to be removed and replaced. In addition to the regular unplanned downtime, purchasing and installing new chains four times a year amounted to further costs.
Now, the manufacturer can continue to operate throughout the year without disruption: the chain is inspected and changed only once per year as part of the pre-planned maintenance schedule. This has enabled the manufacturer to reduce the time spent on maintaining the chain by nearly 75 per cent and helped optimise productivity.
Tsubaki doubles conveyor drive chain lives at automotive manufacturing
The pressure and stress at automotive industry manufacturing lines is high; a second of downtime can cost millions of euros. In spite of low reliability’s astronomical costs, many manufacturers still determine their conveyor driving chains as commodity goods; they weigh on price rather than performance.
In many situations, this is false; since a correctly selected chain can endure and reduce production costs, lengthening chain’s drive life span.
Most people expect automotive production lines to operate continuously with only occasional opportunities for planned maintenance throughout the year. In most cases, the car parts are moving constantly through the assembly process on overhead conveyors, taking them from one workstation to the next.
As such, conveyors carrying vehicles’ bodies are obviously the most vital systems in the environment. If conveyor chain breaks, or malfunctions somehow, majority of the production line comes to halt. This could rapidly spread through to the other production sections. It can also disrupt goods inwards, dispatch and just about every other activity on site.
It is perhaps surprising then, that conveyor chain is often viewed as a commodity product, rather than an engineered component. This is a common approach taking a false premise as basis that all chain offers similar service life, so value can only be found at the point of purchase.
It’s understandable why production engineers and facilities managers who have only ever experienced poor performance would think this. The reality is that specialist chains can often survive several times longer than conventional chain, particularly in heavy duty applications.
For example, one of the UK’s largest automotive assembly plants found that it was having to replace its conveyor chain at least once every 12 months.
The problem was made worse by the fact that maintenance was scheduled quarterly, so the chain could only be lubricated every 3 months. The chain became stiff and difficult to articulate and airborne particles were causing contamination to build up in the chain and cause wear.
The chain would typically break inside of 12 months, so, to prevent unscheduled downtime the chain had to be replaced every third quarter.
The plant’s managers were keen to look for ways to improve chain management and thereby increase productivity, so they invited chain experts from Tsubaki to suggest an alternative solution.
It was soon established that the OE chain in use was not suited to the heavy-duty operation. And, Tsubaki suggested that a better quality chain would offer a longer working life.
However, to add value to the production line, the new chain would need to offer a demonstrably lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Then, Tsubaki recommended its maintenance-free, Lambda series of self-lubricated chain.
This would eliminate the need for manual lubrication, In addition, it was extending the overall operation life of the chain: cutting maintenance costs, reducing downtime and minimising the cost of replacement chain.
To further enhance the service life, Tsubaki’s engineers developed a special top plate, which was fitted to every second link.
And, this works to reduce chain contamination and protect the chain from wear. Also, on Tsubaki’s recommendation, the rivets used to secure the top plates were replaced with special, high tensile screws that are secured into position with thread locking adhesive.
The net result of the switch to Tsubaki‘s Lambda chain is a conveyor system that typically operates reliably for in excess of 2 years – more than doubling the service life of the OE chain. This means that the plant is spending less on chain each year, while also saving on maintenance costs and lost production.
New Focus: Stainless Inverted Tooth Chains
“Admittedly, the designation ‘stainless inverted tooth chains’ may be confusing – because the advantage of our stainless steel inverted tooth chains is not in the resistance of the metal but in the thermal conductivity properties of stainless steel” emphasizes Uwe Gillert, glass industry manager for inverted tooth chain manufacturer RENOLD.
Renold Tooth Chain introduced the stainless steel inverted tooth chain over 20 years ago and for more than 25 years Uwe Gillert has frequently visited and supported designers, maintenance staff and production managers in glass plants and at the factories of equipment manufacturers. During this time, he has accumulated wide and detailed knowledge regarding the industrial production of glass containers. He uses his experience and customer input to initiate product improvements and modifications to our Renold conveyor tooth chains. Recently, specific adjustments have been made to our original standard stainless steel chains to increase the range of use and lifetime, but of course, the beneficial features of our product design will still be incorporated into our chain.
As stainless steel has a lower thermal conductivity than standard steel, the interface temperature between the burning hot glass and the inverted tooth chain increases. “This way, base cracks in the glass are reduced, which results in minimal waste during production,” explains the inverted tooth chain specialist. Preheating the inverted tooth chains is also no longer necessary. For a standard IS-machine, this can save energy costs of tens of thousands of Euros per year.
Of course, the stainless steel variant also features the classic advantages of the inverted tooth chain design: Full flexible design using spacer rings, extended pitch or any other layout. The interlocking power transmission between the inverted tooth chain and the sprocket ensures slip-free drive operation. The inverted tooth chain engages with the sprocket with minimal impact to minimize energy loss. The 2-pin rolling pivot joint features virtually zero friction loss. This results in efficiencies of up to 99% and reduces wear significantly.
Another feature of our tooth chain, laser-welded rolling pivots offer major advantages in the glass industry. The smooth contact surface on both sides of the inverted tooth chain creates a gap-free transition between the inverted tooth chain and the in feeding and transition points. This process also reduces the risk of pin breakage. Hardened outer link plates ensure a wear-resistant and safe connection.
Further information regarding stainless steel inverted tooth chains and the cost savings attributed to them can be obtained from us on request.
Low Maintenance Chain
The Renold Syno range sets a new benchmark for roller chain performance in lubrication-sensitive environments. Covering both small and large pitch sizes, Renold has tailored its technology to suit your requirements with a range of different solutions all brought under the Renold Syno name.
In a range incorporating technology unique to Renold and with designs based on wear and fatigue resistance you can expect improvements to working life, productivity and efficiency that will deliver long term benefits to your operation.
Whether your application requires a chain to run with little or no additional lubricant, there is sure to be an option available for you.
For food processing environments, cleanliness is critical; the Renold Syno range is ideal to meet these requirements.
Chain used in bottling applications benefits from corrosion resistance and lubrication considerations are key.
Packaging must be transported without contamination, think “Syno” and your
problems are solved.
Baskı endüstirisinde ürünün yağdan ve kirden korunması son derece önemlidir. Zincirin bakım gereksinimlerinin en az olması nedeniyle Synoı zincirleri temiz bir ortamın garantisini verir.
No stain removal required when you specify Renold Syno chain for use in textile
Heavy loads, dirt and grime are all to be expected in sawmills. Lubrication will attract this kind of debris causing a dramatically shortened working life. With Renold Syno PB chain this risk can be avoided.
Car assembly lines are an example of the need for no lubricant contamination to vehicle panels or interiors. Syno Polymer Bush chain is lubricant-free and can take the strain without the squeaking noise made by other chain brands.
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