In many synchronous conveying applications, timing belts must be replaced as fast as possible.
So finding ways to reduce the time it takes to change a timing belt is an ongoing challenge for users. After all, every hour spent disassembling machinery and re-fitting or installing a belt is an hour of lost production that costs precious time and money.
There must be a better way
I want to look here at the solution we offered when an OEM customer asked us to find a way to reduce downtime when changing the timing belts in its machines.
These machines are sold to end users for the manufacture of wooden doors. The timing belts in the machines ensure the precise positioning of door elements while milling. Once these timing belts reach the ends of their lives, they must be replaced, and this was taking between five and seven hours. Why so long? Because customers had to disassemble shafts, pulleys and machine parts to change the belts.
The OEM asked Habasit for a solution to reduce this downtime while still maintaining joining integrity and belt performance.
Mechanical fasteners dramatically reduce downtime
The obvious answer was to offer a mechanical fastener, although we needed to be sure that the belt strength, pulley diameters, and amount of belt bending could accommodate this solution. After analyzing the machine data, we found that a mechanical fastener could indeed be used, and we sent a sample belt with a steel hinge joint to the OEM. The OEM then passed this on to its end user.
It proved an excellent solution: the end user was able to replace the timing belt in less than an hour – meaning that downtime was reduced by 85%.
Not only was the end user delighted with this new and efficient solution, the OEM is now able to better support its customers by offering belts fitted with a hinge joint as a spare part for replacements.
Why hinge joints are an excellent solution
Hinge joints are securely positioned in the timing belt, with both ends of the stainless steel joint integrated into the belt and connected with a metal pin. Let’s take a closer look at the many reasons why this is such a useful joining method:
- The connection of the hinge joint is simple, easy and fast – cutting downtime.
- The design of the fastener ensures that every tooth remains in the connection.
- Only a small cut is visible on the tooth and the conveying side, which keeps the surface smooth and does not affect the performance of the belt.
- Hinge joints have high lateral and transversal stiffness, while being extremely flexible in comparison to other types of mechanical end connections.
- Hinge joints can be added to specially fabricated timing belts, which means that belts with covers, profiles and modifications can also use this mechanical joining method.
Different ways to join timing belts
Depending on the demands of the application and the conveyor, timing belts can be fabricated endless, or open-ended for press joining, or with a mechanical fastener. While many legacy systems use endless belts, it may be time to look at other alternatives.
I’ve listed the advantages of hinge joints above, and these can be used in many different industries, applications and situations, especially as there is also a choice of mechanical fasteners to meet particular needs:
- Steel hinge joint
- PA (polyamide) hinge joint
- Pin joint (pin splice)
Wide range of applications and industries
Wherever timing belts are in use and reducing downtime is important, it’s worthwhile looking into using a mechanical fastener or hinge joint as an alternative to an endless belt. From the food industry to materials handling, wood, aluminum, paper, automotive and more, almost every industry can benefit from this solution, and many are already doing so. What’s more, this solution is even possible for wide timing belts.
For more information on mechanical fasteners, visit our website or contact me to help you find the optimum solution.