The Gates Corporation has engineered a power transmission belt that is lighter, cleaner and completely removes maintenance costs compared with roller chain.

Roller chains play a vital role in industrial machinery, commonly used for power transmission on drives.

However, certain aspects of a roller chain’s metal composition can present potential productivity issues.

Mark O’Brien, Inenco Product Manager, says that metal roller chains can be costly, labour-intensive, heavy and messy.

“Because roller chains are usually coming into contact with other metal components, they need to be kept well lubricated,” he says.

“Lubricants can attract dirt and dust which can become a contaminant or lead to further wear.

Because of the issues its customers were encountering with roller chains, the Gates Corporation tasked its material scientists to engineer a solution.

The result is the Poly Chain synchronous belt. It uses a polyurethane material with carbon fibre tensile cords to provide increased power carrying capacity and extended flex fatigue life, helping it withstand shocks, surge loading and
heavy abrasion.

Mr O’Brien says Poly Chain belts are made from polyurethane so they can’t rust like a metal chain.

“Poly Chain belts require no lubrication and eliminate contamination risks, making them ideal for food processing,” he says.

“The belt materials are resistant to chemicals, oil, pollutants and abrasion, helping simplify washdowns.”

Gates’ Poly Chain belts have traditionally been restricted to lengths below five metres. However, recent innovations now allow for specialty made-to-order lengths of up to 20 metres to be produced, dramatically expand the range of applications for Poly Chain consideration. 

Mr O’Brien says one of the most appealing features of the Poly Chain belt is the complete reduction of maintenance costs.

“Roller chains stretch, often requiring re-tensioning. This leads to downtime and lost productivity,” he says.

“With Poly Chain’s, installation, set and forget. Once it’s in place you almost never need to go back to it.

“Gates has engineered the belts to be long lasting, with a total service life around three times longer than a roller chain.”

Installation is made easier, with the overall weight of Poly Chain around 96 per cent lighter than the equivalent length of rolling chain. By doing so, it reduces potential for fatigue, strain and risk of pinching during installation.

With less metal components, Poly Chain belts are also quieter, particularly when it gets up to speed. Mr O’Brien says this is an additional benefit for food producers working in a factory environment, where noise reduction can be a safety issue.

Gates distributes its power transmission products through the Consolidated Bearing Company (CBC). The two companies work closely together to ensure the Australian market is supported with engineering and after sales support.

CBC operates more than 45 branches around Australia, with each employing qualified product managers and engineering support teams to provide everything from design, installation and fitment.

Mr O’Brien says most of the branches carry their own stock range, supported by major distribution centres on the east and west coast.

“Gates and CBC have had a strong relationship since the early 90s and both have grown over that period,” he says.

“We’re forever looking to extend this in Australia to provide the best value to customers.”