Energy-saving conveyor chains from Tsubaki

Paul Boughton
Engineers, works managers - and accountants even - have increasingly been focussing on the role of AC drive systems and energy-efficient motors as a means of reducing energy costs. This is justified by the contribution that inverter/motor combinations can make to energy savings in most applications. However, it does not take into account cases where energy-saving drives and high-efficiency motors are routinely fitted as part of a larger power transmission train. In these instances there are other components that, if not optimised for energy savings, can reduce considerably the potential for achieving savings. Alternatively, if they are considered and specified they can enhance the savings made by motors and drives.
One product area in particular that is often overlooked is power transmission roller chain. Despite this lack of awareness, the potential for achieving savings is real, and is proven by two innovative products from Tsubaki UK. Both aimed at conveyor applications, Bearing Roller Conveyor Chain and Double Plus Chain can help to optimise the energy savings in any power transmission system, thereby protecting the gains made further up the transmission chain via energy-efficient motors and drives.
The innovative Bearing Roller Conveyor Chain (BRCC) integrates cylindrical roller bearings inside the chain, providing superior performance through increased strength and reduced friction. This allows driving power to be reduced, enabling users to downsize by selecting a chain up to two sizes smaller, and also reduce costs by using smaller motors.
In addition, by using BRCC, driven conveyors require less energy to operate, making them more economical. Tsubaki's BRCC reduces chain running resistance to one-third that of conventional conveyor chain. The chain's design - which is claimed to be unique - also ensures that any irregular movement of the conveyor caused by stick-slip is eliminated right down to chain speeds as low as 2m/min.
Sealing grease into the bearing area of the chain rollers further enhances the low-friction operation. This reduces lubrication maintenance by up to ten times, depending upon the application, and increases the superior energy-efficiency characteristics of the chain. In addition, the combination of sealed lubricant and the chain's low friction solves the problem of dust causing early wear between bushings and rollers, thereby extending chain wear life far beyond that experienced with standard conveyor chains. As a result, BRCC chain is a good choice for users with wear-induced chain life problems. Tsubaki offers the product in standard form but also now with the Tsubaki-lube free technology and greater corrosion resistance.
Tsubaki's Double Plus conveyor chain is claimed to convey at more than twice the speed of ordinary free-flow chain. Its design incorporates a large centre roller and a smaller outer roller, which supports the chain on a guide rail. When engaged, the large centre rollers (upon which conveyed objects travel) rotate at the same rpm as the small rollers. However, since the diameter of the large rollers is approximately 2.5 times that of the smaller ones, conveyed objects move approximately 2.5 times faster than the chain!
The benefits of this design - which is claimed to be unique - are that chain speeds up to 60 per cent slower can be used without affecting the object conveying speed. Consequently, motor drive speeds can be reduced, resulting in considerable energy savings and noise levels some 15db lower than those of plastic side roller chains.
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