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Chains: reducing long-term cost with the best choices for harsh environments
Exposure to challenging environmental conditions is when the ultimate performance and durability of an industrial chain is really tested. From corrosive atmospheres to washdown environments, a chain correctly specified for its application will increase lifespan, reduce burden of maintenance and minimise downtime. In such applications it is often possible to reduce total cost of ownership by installing specialty chain.
Jake Yamamoto, Sales & Marketing Director for Tsubakimoto Europe B.V., looks at the impact of industrial environments on chain performance.
With the high-cost implications of chain failure, and the impact that a chain can have on the quality of the process its driving, a chain is integral to operational success in most industrial processes. The demands of each application vary according to its environment, so working with a supplier who can help identify the challenges and offer engineered solutions is key to specifying chain that will offer long-life and reduced operating costs.
In harsh industrial environments such as metal working, sawmills or cement processing, dust and abrasive particles are unavoidable. Dust infiltrates moving parts that can accelerate wear and reduce a chain's lifespan. Even before that stage, grit and abrasive elements will reduce the efficiency and control of power transmission.
Tsubaki Titan was specially developed to operate in these conditions. The chain's pins have a hard coated, low friction surface for increased wear and corrosion resistance.
Its seamless bushes are perfectly cylindrical, ensuring smooth operation and increasing wear resistance in areas where tight tolerances are crucial. These seamless bushes also include Lube Grooves that hold the oil between the pin and the bush, the point of greatest contact, maintaining lubrication.
With a presence of water there's the potential of corrosion that will rapidly deteriorate the chain. Corrosion is particularly prevalent if the area undergoes chemical cleaning or where the water contains high levels of salt such as in marine environments.
Resistance to corrosion requires a chain with adequate coating to repel the effects while maintaining strength. Tsubaki's Neptune chain is designed for use in corrosive environments and includes a two-stage coating including an outer resin that provides high corrosion and chemical resistance.
Heavy impact use
Chain durability and performance is significantly challenged in applications that involve shock loads, or where high power transmission or heavier loads are required. Compact applications, for example where larger double stranded chains cannot be used, also face similar challenges.
Tsubaki's Heavy Duty chain range is designed for increased load capabilities and includes higher tensile strength. As well as providing the performance for these demanding applications, the Heavy-Duty range gives longer life with features such as increased plate thickness and through-hardened pins for greater fatigue strength.
Clean environments and lube-free chains
In clean environments, such as food and beverage or pharmaceutical production, it's essential that the chain does not cause contamination. In these situations, lubrication can't be used for the potential of dispersal. For other applications, lubrication might not be easy or possible because of where the chain is located.
Tsubaki's Lambda lube-free chain ensures long-term use with sintered bushes, impregnated with food-grade lubricant, combined with a special coated pin enhancing internal lubrication.
The right chain saves cost
Matching a chain to its environment not only optimises the performance and efficiency of the chain for long term use, it maximises its lifetime. The danger of treating all applications and environments the same, and of considering the chain as a replaceable commodity, ultimately increases cost.
The right chain for the conditions will not only make the life of an MRO engineer easier, it will save costs in maintenance and most critically, it will reduce the cost of downtime - planned or otherwise.