November 14, 2018
When it comes to ensuring that conveyors are working effectively and efficiently, there are many moving parts that need to be working in sync.
A fluid coupling is a key component. Specifically, fluid couplings are hydrodynamic devices that work to transmit rotating mechanical energy between the likes of axes or drive shafts. They serve several purposes, such as helping to limit torque, dampening vibrations and load sharing.
While fluid couplings were perhaps best associated with working in automotive transmissions and marine applications, they play an important role in conveyors as well. Fluid couplings are able to help a conveyor work better for longer, all while conserving energy as they move product.
In addition, they also protect the belts, motors, and drives of the conveyor system.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at fluid couplings, their components and key considerations in the process of how to choose fluid coupling parts.
Fluid couplings consist of several key components. There's the housing, or shell, the two turbines, and hydraulic fluid. The turbines are connected to input and output shafts, respectively. As the main motor turns the input turbine, hydraulic fluid is passed through the housing compartments, slowly ramping up the torque applied to the output turbine.
Consequently, the hydraulic fluid inside must be at an adequate level, or else enough torque won't generate to the output turbine. It's also important to minimize slip, which can occur and lead to a loss of power under certain conditions.
So what considerations are necessary when it comes to selecting the right fluid coupling and fluid coupling parts for your conveyor belt?
Keep in mind that while a properly operating fluid coupling is important in any application, they're especially critical in conveyor applications. Conveyors require the proper amount of power to keep the belt moving while also limiting the amount of wear and tear it receives.
After all, the conveyor belt is often the most expensive (and arguably the most damage prone) part of the overall conveyor.
Here are a few factors to consider when selecting fluid couplings and fluid coupling parts.
First, you have to decide what type of coupling is right for your application. The most common are constant fill and fill controlled.
Constant fill couplings hold a predetermined amount of fluid and are designed to limit torque and vibration. These types of couplings are user-friendly and generally offer a more maintenance-free operating experience.
Fill controlled couplings, conversely, are more advanced and are able to provide a higher level of power. Users can also better control the torque with these types of devices, which can reduce strain on the conveyor. Because of this, fill controlled couplings are better in long conveyor lines or for those that are located in more demanding conditions.
Many people make the mistake of just assessing the power level when deciding what fluid couplings would work best for their particular conveyor application.
While power level is important, a better thing to know is the total system inertia. This is important because it makes for an overall better conveyor belt compared to one that just takes power level into consideration.
If you're trying to assess what fluid couplings — and what parts — make the most sense for your application, you don't have to turn everything into a guessing game. Today, there's simulation software that can help in making these decisions.
By relying on simulation software to help assess your overall conveyor belt, you can actually better analyze its startup behavior and run various virtual trials with different types of loads and conditions.
Running simulations can offer you an entirely new look at the inner workings of the conveyor and also permit you to make a more educated decision on what types of fluid couplings you choose to integrate into the platform.
Thermal performance is another important factor to keep in mind, as certainly different types of fluid couplings and fluid coupling parts are going to perform differently based on their temperature.
Assessing the thermal performance of couplings and components can be determined during a simulation. Such simulations measure a variety of different variables that can all translate to fluctuations in temperature. As with other aspects that the simulation can measure, the results of a simulation when thermal performance is considered enables you to make more educated decisions based on concrete data.
When it comes to fluid couplings, there are a variety of different makes and styles that you can choose from. Voith, Falk, and Transfluid are popular fluid coupling manufacturers for conveyor systems.
Before making a selection, it’s important to properly assess the needs and requirements of your conveyor to best ensure that the fluid couplings will perform how they're intended, without harming any other components of the conveyor. Other factors to consider are the connection type, motor bore and reducer bore size.