How adjustable sprockets reduce the downtime of industrial conveyors
Every component of a conveyor system, from chains to sprocket wheels to attachments, needs to be designed to achieve the optimum balance between strength, durability and resistance to wear.
Conveyor chain systems are also required to operate in often arduous environmental conditions which means there is an increased reliance on the use of the highest quality materials and on the most stringent of manufacturing methods to avoid unplanned and potentially costly shutdowns.
The last thirty years has seen numerous design innovations in conveyor technology that have been introduced with the aim of reducing chain wear and enhancing safety and efficiency.
In this blog post we explore how the introduction of an adjustable sprocket has provided tangible benefits for a company operating in the pulp and paper industry – delivering significant cost savings, increasing conveyor wear-life and simplifying maintenance procedures for engineers.
Getting to the root of the problem
Sawmill cross cut tables are commonly used within the pulp and paper processing industry to cut logs to length.
In this particular example, an Austrian wood processing company was using a conveyor system that was comprised of sixteen chains of 200mm pitch.
The chains were connected in groups of two with the use of welded attachments and the logs were then distributed, by spin-rollers, to the right and left of the conveyor.
One disadvantage of this design, however, is that it was placing a higher load on the outer areas of the conveyor in comparison to the centre and which in turn was causing increased wear between the pins and bushes.
Chain elongation was also causing misalignment of the welded attachments – with logs frequently ending up in a transverse position, damaging the saw blades and resulting in the unplanned shut-down of the conveying system.
What was clear was that the conveyor chain attachments needed to be aligned in the area of the saw blades to create a more even distribution of load.
With this goal in mind, FB Chain’s sales technician, Walter Buchauer, set about developing a new adjustable sprocket design. Buchauer created exchangeable tooth rims, with the teeth of the sprocket being adjustable to the conveyor system’s chain pitch of 200mm.
He first produced a wooden prototype, to check the functionality, before providing the customer with two sprockets to test.
The new adjustable sprocket design has offered some notable advantages for the conveyor system:
- The plant’s technicians are now able to easily adjust the sprocket teeth by simply opening the screws
- There has been a considerable time-saving due to engineers not having to uninstall either the chain or the thirty-metre-long shaft
- The installation of the six-part tooth rims requires no special tooling
- There is less prevalence of chain elongation which means the saw blades are protected for longer with a dramatic increase in wear-life
- Less unplanned downtime at the plant has resulted in higher profitability
- The cost of replacing sprockets has dramatically reduced
Different chain conveyor applications require different solutions depending on the environment the system is operating in and the type and volume of product being conveyed.
The ability for industrial chains manufacturers to be able to devise bespoke chain solutions provides a greater degree of choice for customers and also ensures optimum productivity, efficiency and safety.