Wrap spring clutches in state-of-the-art machines

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With many industries embracing technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) or Industry 4.0, it can be easy to overlook some of the simpler and more cost-effective options. For packaging and labelling, maintaining both precision and product positioning is very important for high-quality results and does not necessarily require the latest in servomotor design. Mathieu Ruault, Sales Director of Warner Electric, discusses the role that wrap spring clutches can play in state-of-the-art machines.

The inevitable march of progress brings with it many innovations that save time and energy. However, adopting new technology at face value may not always be the most cost-effective option. One good example is the introduction of servomotors and variable speed drives into assembly and packaging lines; while certain applications will benefit, others are better suited to a simpler approach.

Keep it simple

Wrap spring clutches and brakes offer a simple and effective means of providing accurate, non-accumulative error indexing and positioning. Furthermore, for their physical size, wrap spring clutches can transmit considerable amounts of static torque.

The most common applications involve multiple starts and stops within a single revolution, such as printing presses, postage machines, conveyors and packaging machines. Operating continuously, these machines rely on the product position being exactly the same week after week, without the need for compensating actions or adjustments.

By working closely with a manufacturer it is possible to determine the most suitable dimensions and configuration for the wrap spring clutch, thus creating a solution that will deliver not only accuracy and repeatability, but also reliability and lower running costs. However, they are not a panacea and each application should be carefully assessed to ensure the most effective operation.

Think it through

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end users can all benefit from making the most appropriate choices when it comes to building and installing a new commercial processing machine. The initial costs of technology using the latest innovations are much higher and will directly affect the price point of the new equipment. In contrast, given the right operational parameters, a more simplistic approach can deliver significant cost savings as well as a far less complicated maintenance routine.

In addition, once the machine has been installed, the customer will be responsible for carrying out any repairs. Repairs to servo motors and their drive systems require highly skilled maintenance staff and replacement parts can be quite costly. In contrast, solenoid-activated wrap spring clutches are much simpler to repair or replace, and the process can be completed with minimal downtime. In these circumstances, the maintenance costs associated with simple technology are a fraction of those attributed to the latest drives and their associated controls.

Assessing the application

Processing systems that have a high cycle rate, above 10 per minute for instance, will satisfy the first step of the assessment process. From this point it is necessary to analyse the load inertias and speeds as well as identifying potential sources of friction that will affect cycle rates and repeatability.

At this stage OEMs and end users can benefit from the expert advice that is available from Warner Electric, which is part of the Altra Industrial Motion Corporation. From individual components to complete processing lines, Warner’s technical support team can offer experienced advice on the best approach in terms of reliability and cost effectiveness.

Industries such as packaging and labelling are cost-conscious and as such require the equipment that they use to be cost-effective and reliable with minimal running costs. By assessing each component within a process it is possible to determine the most suitable design and integrate it into the finished product.

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