On offer from Chain manufacturer Tsubaki is a ‘Match & Tag’ service which aims to guarantee that chains are the same length, to within 0.50mm, regardless of overall length, so that they can be used in pairs or larger groups.
Machine builders often want to use chains in pairs, typically on conveyors and transfer stations and within assembly, manufacturing and printing machinery when there is a need to move parts with accuracy and/or in synchronisation with other operations. Theoretically, at least, if the chains are the same length, precise and predictable movement can be achieved.
However, the reality is that chains that are nominally the same length can be different to a significant degree. If used together in a parallel drive system, the result would be far from satisfactory, with errors, twisting and slippage likely to be high in operation. This problem can become worse as the chains wear with use, with the result that a system that worked well beforehand can gradually develop problems.
The natural reaction would be to re-tension both chains, but in many cases the problem will soon return and usually the decision to replace the chains will have to be made earlier than expected.
There are several Industry standards relating to the manufacture of chain components which set a tolerance for the accuracy of length. However, they do not cover the assembly of components into complete chains, which means there is a possibility that a significant error will accumulate if a chain length includes several links that are only just within tolerance. It is notable that the longer a chain, the more likely it is to have a significant accumulated error.
Some manufacturers address this by further sorting their components into two or three classes of greater accuracy, although the possibility of accumulated errors remains.
Tsubaki, however, takes the issue to another level with its Match & Tag service. This reportedly guarantees that paired chains are the same length to within a tolerance of 0.50mm, regardless of overall chain length. This means they can be fitted with confidence and provide a long working life free from worries about inaccurate operation, uneven wear and constant re-tensioning.
To achieve this, Tsubaki uses very sophisticated chain measuring equipment. In fact this equipment is set up in its European headquarters and all Match & Tag chain originates from there, no matter where it is eventually used. However, the super-accurate chain story actually starts with the manufacture of the parts and their assembly into chain lengths.
The tolerances on the physical dimensions of each chain part are tight, as is the consistency of the raw materials used and the control of processes such as heat treatment. This aims to ensure that variances in tolerance are absolutely minimal.
After assembly, the Match & Tag process begins by checking the chain lengths. Subsequently, the chain lengths are matched and tagged together into pairs or larger groups if required. Aware that such chain may be needed quickly, particularly by end-users when overhauling or maintaining production equipment, Tsubaki is able to dispatch it quickly from its headquarters for distribution.
Tsubaki offers its Match & Tag service on several sizes and types of chain. These include as standard: BS Single Pitch sizes RS08B to RS32B; ANSI Single Pitch sizes RS40 to RS100 including Heavy Duty Series; ANSI Double Pitch sizes RF2040 to RF2100. Other sizes and types of change can also be matched and tagged upon request.
Specific requirements can also often be accommodated, following discussions with the Tsubaki specialists.