L. Lopes and Dr. O. Mielenz, HEKO, highlight the technical knowledge and manufacturing expertise required to provide customised chains and components for tailor-made conveyor systems.
A reliable supply chain for customised spare parts and equipment for existing tailor-made conveyors is of vital importance to the bulk material handling industry. This is especially true in cases where the original supplier is no longer in the market and/or when the technical description and documentation is incomplete or no longer available. In such cases, customers benefit from reliable partners able to provide the required customised spare parts. In the case of customised conveyor chains and accessories for chain conveyors, this requires not only a deep knowledge of conveying technologies and an understanding of the specific conveyor and its components, but also maximal manufacturing flexibility. Moreover, customised chains and accessories pose a challenge in relation to the design, selection of materials, and heat treatment. HEKO accepts this challenge and throws all its technical competence and manufacturing know-how into realising customised chains and components for individual, tailor-made conveyors. Special designs are possible, even for smaller quantities.
At the beginning of the development process of a customised chain, data collection and an analysis of the individual conveyor and chain system is performed in close cooperation with the customer and chain experts. If possible, existing drawings are considered and checked against the actual situation onsite. If no drawings are available, testing of samples provided by the customer allows a detailed specification of the inquired non-standard parts and ensures that the quality of the part is identical to the customer’s demands. The results of sample testing and recording of the actual installation onsite can be used by in-house specialists to develop and recommend improved solutions. The data acquisition and analysis is completed by collecting and reporting the customer’s experiences and relevant operational practice data.
Based on this data, possible weak points in the actual design are identified, the main mechanical loads on the chain and corresponding components are calculated on the basis of advanced knowledge and a pre-design is defined. This pre-design comprises the selection of suitable materials and the definition of appropriate heat treatment parameters, as well as a model-based functionality check to maintain the fatigue strength and long service life of the respective components and to avoid any non-desirable collisions between components. If necessary, finite elemental analysis or other computational simulation methods can be used.
In the next step the pre-design is discussed and agreed with the customer and, finally, the design is fixed and drawn. The close cooperation of customer experts and the supplier’s engineers, as well as the integrated consideration of the interaction of components in the engineering process, assures a target-orientated development.
Corresponding to standardised chains and components, the manufacture of customised conveyor chains, sprockets, and related assembly is performed by applying cutting edge manufacturing technologies and using high grades of steel. Flexible manufacturing facilities enable the easy adaptation of different components corresponding to the customer’s specific requirements and lead to an optimised price-performance ratio. Thereby, the customer benefits from the supplier’s experience in manufacturing reliable chains, sprockets, and accessories which apply to a wide range of individual applications in different industries.