Ray Mifsud, managing director of UK manufacturing and distribution company Medway (UK) discusses some of the innovations in modern industrial drive belt technology.
Industrial belt drives are required to provide reliability 24 hours per day, seven days a week and are often used in contaminated and demanding applications. We have accepted that regular belt failure and replacement is the norm and an unavoidable fact of engineering life. Drive belts have long been regarded as commodity products that are bought at low cost and are replaced regularly... but this need not be the case.
In recent years drive belts have undergone significant improvements in performance and load carrying capabilities. Premium belt manufacturers such as Dunlop Industrial Belts are raising customers' expectations by demonstrating the advantages that can be achieved by using higher quality drive belts. These not only maximise efficiency and provide longer service lives, but also cut maintenance costs and reduce energy consumption, having a more positive effect on the environment.
By looking at the improvements over recent years in the construction of V and wedge belts, Dunlop 'Premium' belts now feature a multi-layer construction. A stronger and more durable polyester tension cord placed between layers of polychloroprene, with a rubber base that is wrapped in an abrasion resistant long-life fabric cover give a higher dynamic load and add flexibility which can overcome many causes of failure and inefficiency. This advanced construction and improvement in component design and material enables the belt to accommodate heavy tension loads with minimal elongation, resulting in the delivery of up to 40% more power than traditional standard wrapped belts. With energy efficiency capability of up to 97%, assuming the drive has been correctly designed, there is a life expectancy in the region of 25,000 hours or almost three years continuous operation.
Recent developments in Dunlop synchronous belts, also known as timing belts, have also been extremely beneficial when it comes to enhancing efficiency and minimising maintenance. Cost savings are made as synchronous timing belts are truly maintenance free. The raw materials and advanced production processes used create a belt that requires no maintenance or re-tensioning throughout its entire working life, giving even greater levels of efficiency over V-belts. Dunlop manufacture a wide range of synchronous timing belts known as 'rubber chain', with enhanced performance ratings to suit all applications. They have the added benefit of being able to run on existing standard HTD profile pulleys which in turn, can offer additional savings on the running costs of an existing belt and pulley drive system.
In many applications where standard belts are used the replacement to Dunlop premium V and wedge belts or Dunlop rubber chain synchronous timing belts have offered a lifespan of more than ten times that of previous drive systems. Therefore upgrading your drive can not only cut environmental waste, but reduce plant maintenance costs and improve productivity.
These are just some of the reasons why it pays to review the performance and types of drive belts being used. As companies look to reduce maintenance costs, downtime and make savings on energy consumption premium belts such as Dunlop premium and Dunlop rubber chain can play a key role. So rather than writing off regular belt replacement costs as a necessary evil, you could make some significant changes.
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