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Chain and Chain Drives

Renold helps electronics distributor save over £70K per annum



A leading global distributor of electronic, electrical and industrial components handles and ships over 55,000 parcels every day from its UK-based distribution centre. To facilitate this feat of logistics, each part of the distribution chain needs to work flawlessly.

In the warehouse, products are transported from stock locations to packing bays using lifts that are in operation around the clock. Each of the 20 lifts features multiple tables where the pickers place the required items. The tables are attached to the lifts using four endless chains located in the corners of each lift.

The challenge

For years, the distributor used generic chains supplied by an OEM. Each chain required regular re-lubrication and re-tensioning to remain in working order. Although it was essential maintenance, the lubrication process was time-consuming, inconsistently controlled, resulted in unnecessary waste, and disrupted the workplace. As the chains moved, freshly applied lubricant would often be redistributed around the lifts and onto the tables, staining the products’ packaging, which added to costs and caused delays to delivery. Yet when the chains were not lubricated regularly, they would stretch and wear the sprockets out quickly.

Additionally, as the lifts are used to carry items of varying weight, the chains experience wear at different rates. When this happens, the tables become uneven and unstable, or the chain worn; this can result in the lifts becoming jammed, or products ending up damaged or lost on their way to the packing area. Because of this, each of the 84 tables also needs to be maintained and potentially replaced regularly. Purchasing new tables from the OEM is expensive as each one costs around £1,000, and fitting the tables requires additional downtime and incurs further costs. With 84 tables in use across the warehouse, this represented an unwelcome recurring expense to the distributor.

In 2012, the company decided to address these issues by replacing the generic chains with low maintenance alternatives that require no lubrication and no regular adjustment. It approached Renold and two other chain manufacturers and asked each to propose a solution. Renold’s Syno chain was fitted into 18 lifts, while one chain from each of the other two suppliers was trialled in one lift each.

The solution

Before long, it became apparent that the chains from Renold’s competitors were unsuited for the warehouse environment. One chain could not handle the repeated loads and fell apart soon after installation. The other lasted a year before succumbing to rust and corrosion.

Renold’s low maintenance Syno chains, on the other hand, proved a perfect fit. The wear-resistant chain was developed to optimise productivity and efficiency in a variety of demanding applications and it was ideally suited to this application. As well as being self-lubricating, the chain successfully stabilised the tables on the lifts, ensuring that products reached the packing bays in optimal condition. Its special corrosion-resistant coating also protected the chain, preventing early onset of rust.

Today, over seven years after installation, the Syno chains continue to perform impeccably and the distributor’s maintenance teams haven’t even needed to adjust the tension since installation. The chains show no signs of wear, and the special corrosion-resistant coating continues to protect them against rust. As the chains require no maintenance and no lubricant, they help the company cut costs daily, as the maintenance team doesn’t need to spend time adjusting or replacing the chains, or cleaning out excess lube from inside the lifts.

To help the distributor unlock further savings, Renold was also able to address the cost associated with maintaining and replacing the tables. After a careful inspection, Renold’s engineers were able to identify the component parts used in the OEM tables and design suitable spares to replace them. Now, all key components, such as attachment links, are supplied by Renold as spare parts. This allows the distributor to purchase replacement parts from Renold when needed, and build new tables using existing and new parts, in-house, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing an entire replacement table from the OEM. The Syno chains can then be reinstalled on the reconstructed tables with minimum disruption to operation.

The result

The innovative approach to replacing and managing the tables, together with the ongoing time and cost savings gained from switching to Syno chains, has enabled the distributor to save in excess of £70,000 per annum over the past seven years.

What’s more, as the chains still deliver the same performance as when they were first installed, they are set to continue to help the company optimise efficiency and cut costs for many more years to come.

To find out more about how Renold’s Syno range could help you optimise your application, visit /products/industrial-transmission-chain/renoldsyno/


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