Roller Chain Undergoes a Darwinian Evolution
- 23 January 2012
- Company & Industry News
Robert Young of Tsubaki UK describes how adaptation over time has resulted in increasing specialisation for roller chain, and how the resultant increase in product variation has evolved the genus from a simple power transmission device that wore out and required regular maintenance to diverse species of chain that will perform difficult power transmission and conveying tasks in differing conditions, with little or no maintenance and greatly increased efficiency.
Roller chain is one of the most efficient, reliable and cost effective methods of transmitting motive power across a short distance. It is over 90% efficient in most forms and can be as high as 98% efficient. As soon as intermeshing gears are impractical in terms of proximity, roller chain comes into play as a reliable, efficient & cost effective solution.
When you first think of roller chain, what probably comes to mind for most people is car engines — and with good reason, because nothing demonstrates more clearly its inherent robustness and reliability. Car engines are required to cover high mileages without replacement cam belts; so many new engines now use roller chain to drive cams and other internal engine ancillaries. The product is designed to perform reliably, unchanged, throughout the lifetime of the engine.
These same characteristics make roller chain one of the most important power transmission components used within industry. What isn’t widely known though is the huge variation available in roller chain, and how the product can be used in such a wide number of drive and conveying applications. This ability comes from the myriad of adapted components, designs and construction materials available. The innovations in chain specifications and attachment designs are driving an evolution in the performance and capability of roller chain that seems almost Darwinian.
Whilst there are numerous standard attachments available to fit roller chain, more specialised, function related attachments are often needed in order to provide conveying solutions OEM manufacturers or final consumers need. For example, special spiked attachments used to convey plastic sheet material through heat sealing equipment in the packaging industry where a standard attachment simply cannot provide the answer.
Specialist solutions though require specialist suppliers who understand the nature of the application and the possibilities of the product, and who can tailor the chain and engineer the attachments to meet individual requirements. It is exactly this level of application support that the Tsubaki engineering team in Annesley in the UK is geared to providing. Hundreds of individual attachment formations are created by Tsubaki UK for specific customers every year, conveying thousands of objects of varying shapes, sizes and materials, in a range of temperatures and environmental conditions.
Chain Innovation = Engineered solutions
As a chain specialist, Tsubaki is able to supply chain in a variety of materials to meet different application requirements. Carbon steel is standard, but where corrosion protection or corrosion resistance are required, there are options of nickel plating, N.E.P. (carbon steel chain with a special multi layer protective coating), stainless steel and engineering plastic combinations. Lube-free chain is available for long term operation without the need for additional lubrication, particularly for sensitive industries such as food, beverage and pharmaceuticals. Standard products are available as stock items, with Tsubaki offering a full service to tailor the chain to individual needs on short lead times, with laser cutting, modified pins, extended pins, different finishing processes, special lubrication services and more.
When it comes to adding attachment items, although the scope of the conveying applications covered by attachment chain is virtually limitless, the Tsubaki team can often still engineer solutions from stock & build to order with short lead times. Attachments can be readily modified where required, for example by drilling holes or adding securing nuts or other adapted fasteners. This value-added service expands on Tsubaki's core competence in chain products and materials, extending it with comprehensive customer support in designing and engineering the conveying solution to ensure that it always perfectly meets the application requirements.
With this ability to engineer tailored products for individual customer requirements, Tsubaki can point to solutions provided for conveying a wide variety of food products, beverage cans, newspapers, books, car body part, stair lifts and much more. In one example for an automotive vehicle manufacture, Tsubaki is meeting the conveying requirements with a special flight attachment fitted over Lambda lube-free duplex chain. The result is a chain conveyor for carrying vehicle body components where the need for lubrication has been eliminated, contamination of the conveyor minimised and chain articulation increased. A further example is a design of stair lift, where an innovative attachment is assembled to nickel plated chain to enable the movement of people with a disability up and down stairs and steps.
When a customer in the pharmaceutical industry was looking for a conveyor system for transporting containers to a machine filling station, Tsubaki was able to meet the requirement with a hygienic engineering plastic and stainless steel roller chain fitted with a special welded pin. In the food industry, Tsubaki has supplied chain with an extended pin and circlip groove, manufactured in carbon steel, enabling a variety of block assemblies to be attached for conveying food products.
These are the sorts of applications for attachment chain that the highly experienced Tsubaki team is solving on a daily basis, lending its expertise and focusing its service capability to engineer innovative solutions to some of industry’s most challenging tasks. Customers turn to Tsubaki for market leading technologies with reliable delivery schedules, and support that extends far beyond product supply.
Tsubaki UK prides itself in being able to fulfil customers requirements and when it is time to deliver, individual performance consistently reaches 99% of that promised for STP (stock product), built to order chains from UK/European stock components and even made to order products from Japan.
Tsubakimoto UK Ltd
NG15 0DX UK
T: +44 (0) 1623 688700