Chain for packaging: Performance guaranteed by Tsubaki
The latest conveyor chains offer both operational cleanliness and cost savings in packaging applications
Tsubaki is a leading global manufacturer of drive and attachment chain. With a wide product offering which is available as direct replacement for BS or ANSI specification chain, Tsubaki has a number of innovative designs that provide reliable solutions for drive, conveyor or attachment applications which meet pharmaceutical as well as food and beverage industry standards.
Technological innovation is currently seen as a major driving force towards achieving improved efficiency - and therefore improved overall performance - in the packaging industry. There are many companies involved in the manufacturing side of the packaging industry and many potential products, from aerosols and pharmaceuticals to food and beverage, but one thing is certain, they can all benefit from improved reliability in their production lines
Lambda 'Lube-Free' chain
Lube-free, oil impregnated, sintered roller chains dispense with the need to use external lubricant and can extend the wear-life of conveyor equipment dramatically. Lube-Free conveyor chains also protect food products and packaging, as well as equipment, from marking and contamination, which enables them to be used in the packaging of food and pharmaceutical products.
There are some obvious initial benefits to using lube-free or 'internally lubricated' chain in packaging machinery. It will generally retrofit directly into standard ANSI, BS and DIN sizes and does not require any externally applied lubrication. As a result of this technology, wear tends to be minimal and consistent since the key components of the chain are lubricated, thus optimising maintenance costs and improving productivity. Food production and packaging environments that have traditionally used expensive food grade lubricants can now operate without the need for chain lubrication.
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Plastic Combination chain
Plastic Combination (PC) chain is constructed from engineering plastic. It has solid extruded plastic inner links with stainless steel bearing pins and outer link plates and is therefore stronger than an all-plastic chain. Being a bush chain, it is easy to clean off any debris as a result of the conveyed product; it is quiet in operation and it requires no lubrication.
The design of the Tsubaki PC chain allows wear to occur that can be measured and monitored by the maintenance team. This allows any requirement for chain replacement to be carried out in a planned maintenance period without any disruption to production output or efficiency. In contrast, a wholly plastic, OEM product could fail unexpectedly, which not only has major impact on production but also requires the maintenance engineers to repair the breakdown immediately and install new chain from stock in order to return the production line to normal operation.
In facilities using thermoforming machinery, which includes both food and medical product manufacturers, gripper chain is used to feed the film over the semi-packed product before it is sealed.
Tsubaki Gripper Chain uses an advanced spring design with increased fatigue resistance as well as a side-swivel gripper design which creates a wider opening and improves the plastic film feed. Combined with the Match & Tag service (see below), this advanced chain can provide perfect chain alignment and synchronised film feed with industry-leading reliability.
A more recent development from Tsubaki has seen the introduction of a food grade lubricant for its NP series of Gripper chain. The new lubricant has been proven to provide the same wear resistance properties as the rust preventative agent used previously. This improvement has been introduced as a direct response to feedback received from existing customers, demonstrating Tsubaki's market focused product innovation.
New Environmental Plating (N.E.P.) chain
N.E.P. chain has been developed for operation in environments that would otherwise compromise standard chain. Systems that operate in applications that involve corrosive chemicals, temperature extremes, excessive moisture or saltwater for example, can suffer from excessive corrosion, wear and reduced performance if they are not suitably protected. Tsubaki N.E.P. chain undergoes a special surface treatment which involves a three stage process to ensure that all the components in the chain have the maximum protection for operating in corrosive environments.
The N.E.P. chain is available in both BS and ANSI specifications as well as being available in the Lambda Lube-Free design. The chain does not contain any chemically hazardous substances and has a working temperature range from -10°C to +150°C. To ensure reliable performance above +60°C, a special high temperature lubricant can be applied.
Match & Tag Service
When chains are running in parallel for conveyance purposes, for example on packaging machinery, it is essential that the two chains are exactly the same length to ensure ideal performance. However, uneven wear of OEM chain can result in both chains requiring maintenance or replacement.
Tsubaki offers the Match & Tag Service, which guarantees a maximum chain length difference of just 0.50mm - independent of the overall chain length. This extraordinary level of service is made possible by the use of sophisticated chain length measurement equipment, which allows a wide range of chains to be matched, including BS Single Pitch, ANSI Single Pitch and ANSI Double Pitch.
An example of this service improving productivity within the packaging industry comes from a dairy packaging company which used a filling machine to produce gable-top cartons of milk. The OEM chains, which were fitted with special attachments, were not properly synchronised and cartons were falling out and contaminating the filling machine. By installing two strands of Tsubaki Match & Tag chain, the company saw a significant improvement in production efficiency and a cleaner manufacturing environment.
Tsubaki is able to 'RetroFIT' chain to fit with almost any application and often ensure an instant cost saving. This not only provides high quality replacement chains, but will also ensure that the attachments are correct; lubrication and wear characteristics are improved; resulting in a significantly lower overall cost of ownership. There are many proven examples where the Tsubaki RetroFIT has delivered greatly improved chain life, increased productivity and reduced maintenance costs.
* RetroFIT definition: To fit original Tsubaki parts onto equipment already in service.
All of the benefits are enhanced by the Match & Tag Service which ensures perfect chain alignment and a synchronised operation. The end result is a reduced risk of product contamination and improved productivity, all of which contribute to a greatly reduced return on investment.
Tsubaki engineers are always available to carry out initial plant surveys to identify potential issues with existing chain systems and to work with customers to develop more reliable solutions which will improve productivity and reduce costs.