According to Gates® Australia, misalignment and incorrect sizing are some of the most common causes for premature drive belt failure. Contributing to increased wear and fatigue, they can be costly mistakes when left unaddressed. Additionally, depth engagement between the belt and pulley, power capacity, and the material’s resistance to things like temperature, static conductivity, and abrasives, can each be the make-or-break of a machine’s overall performance.   

If a drive belt is old or damaged, and requires replacement, it isn’t as simple as finding one with the same dimensions and swapping it straight out. When it comes to harvest applications, understanding the strength requirements, environmental factors and potential for efficiency upgrades is crucial in the selection process.

To make it more streamlined and accurate, Gates has introduced a portfolio of drive modelling software called Design Power™, which includes an upgraded version of Design Flex Pro™ alongside the innovative Design IQ™ platform. 

“I have been using the Design Flex Pro for some time now, and on first impression this newer version is much faster, and more accurate,” enthuses Rob Michelson, National Product Manager for Belts at Motion Australia. “The Design IQ software allows us to go into more complex drives, where we can implement some of the premium products, such as Gates’ revolutionary Predator® V-belts.”

As Rob elaborates, this allows for the inclusion of fewer belts, promoting spatial efficiency and the associated costs of a smaller pulley size. This, paired with higher-grade material, reduces maintenance costs, as well as the risk of downtime caused by untimely failure. The facilitation of drive analysis for premium belts will benefit harvest applications, where dust and other contaminants are likely to compromise the assembly.

As Rob explains, this has proven a vital tool for carrying out the accurate selection on replacement synchronous and V-belts, as well as analysis on existing drives where a customer may be having ongoing issues.

“Motion representatives are taking this toolkit on site, where they will gather all the relevant information on the drive, run it through the system, and that will inform whether the belt needs replacing. Based on the readings, it will make suggestions that we can cross-check with our stock levels, to achieve the best and most timely outcome for the customer.”

Gates Business Development Manager for Queensland and the Northern Territory, Dallas Lange, says that the timing of this new offering is relevant to the agricultural market, as the lead up to harvest season presents a great opportunity for switching to Poly Chain® alternatives.

“It’s a real focus for us, alongside Motion Australia, because while roller chain has been the backbone of this segment for a long time, it’s outdated technology. There’s a streamlined process in place now where we can come in with the Design Power™, make an accurate assessment, and select the best replacement at the best price for the customer.”

“Once a belt is chosen, it gives a description of how it will integrate with the existing system, which can be saved as a PDF file with pictures,” he adds. “It highlights really clearly what the product benefits are, complete with datasheets and a breakdown on its compatibility with the application.”

Furthermore, if there is an incompatibility or mismatch with the selected drive – such as an inadequate power rating – the program will flag it in red with a warning, indicating an error that needs revision.

“It’s extremely user friendly, for both the technician and the customer to be able to have full visibility on the assembly,” Dallas says. “The upgrade on these platforms is important, as it helps us stay ahead of the curve for power transmission in key markets like agriculture.”

Covering all the bases

Design Flex Pro™ is a professional-grade design software that will print, email, or create a PDF of each application’s design specifications, including automatic translation for European or American rating systems. It will easily calculate belt pull and power transmission capacity, while measuring energy savings between different belt types.

It can also provide an accurate cost estimation for the replacement of roller chain with Gates Poly Chain® GT® Belt.

The next level in complex analysis

Design IQ takes things a step further with multi-point design for serpentine drives. It recognises stock and nonstock lengths and pulley sizes, as well as customised sprockets and conditions. The interface prompts users to calculate belt tension, length, and shaft load, recommending the best possible installation parameters.