Automotive manufacturer doubles conveyor chain service life08 November 2022

Modifications to a conveyor chain used in car manufacturing by Tsubaki has more than doubled its operational life.

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 three 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). Tsubaki recommended its maintenance-free, Lambda series of self-lubricated chain. This would eliminate the need for manual lubrication while 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. 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 two 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.

Operations Engineer

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Tsubakimoto UK Ltd

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