Industry relies on roller chain and sprockets to provide cost-effective and flexible solutions for power transmission, material handling and positioning. By their nature, these products are subject to wear over their normal, useful life.
A number of tools exist to measure wear in roller chain so that it can be monitored and replaced in a timely manner. These tools are inexpensive, easy to use and proven money savers.
There are not many tools available to do the same for sprockets, which means sprocket wear is often not detected until it is observed as a performance issue in the form of vibration complications, chain and tooth engagement problems and premature chain failure.
There are three things you can do to prevent such occurrences from increasing costs unnecessarily:
- Design well from the beginning. Designing too small isn’t good for sprocket life, and using the largest diameter and tooth count that will fit in the available space will reduce tooth wear as well as chain tension. If the right type of bearing is on the application, your sprockets will also last longer. Additionally, using hardened tooth sprockets is a well-documented, common practice to extend sprocket life.
- Inspect your sprockets frequently. When you can see wear with the naked eye, you must change your sprockets as soon as possible. Some maintenance mechanics use a sample, new sprockets of the same pitch to provide a reference while inspecting a chain drive until they feel experienced enough to trust their visual analysis.
- If budgets allow, change sprockets with every chain replacement. If not, 3:1 chain change versus sprocket change is probably the longest that can be expected with good operating conditions and routine maintenance.
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