Link collects data and predicts chain life

An intelligent chain-link is capable of collecting load data and predicting chain life

The dynamic loadings experienced by chains in arduous applications have increased dramatically in the last 10 years, with users demanding higher payloads and greater speeds. These loads have gradually exceeded the maximum recommended by chain manufacturers. The effect of increased loads is to reduce the life of the chain to such an extent that the most likely mode of failure would be fatigue, which would result in chain breakage.

Now an intelligent chain-link, capable of collecting load data and predicting chain life in advance, has been developed by Renold Chain and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Branded Renold Smartlink, the units may be fitted to various types of transmission or conveyor chain to record dynamic loadings for subsequent analysis on a PC.

The technology consists of the Smartlink unit, currently about the size of a small calculator, and a hand-held remote controller with a transmitter and receiver. The hand-held units are used to select the program for the required data, and then to transmit the instructions to the Smartlink unit in a similar way to programming a video recorder. The collected data is then recovered by the hand-held units and stored on an easily-removed chip that can be sent to Renold Chain for analysis. Alternatively the data can be downloaded to a PC and analysed on-site.

As the load experienced by the chain can differ at different chain positions, it is important to measure such loads continuously during chain operation. To allow continuous measurement of dynamic loads a purpose built miniature micro-computer based data logger was developed. The embedded microprocessor unit is totally self-contained, including load sensor and on-board battery, allowing continuous measurements for approximately 24 hours.

It is also possible, in critical, remote applications such as are often encountered in the offshore industry, to fit the unit permanently and to use sophisticated computer links to allow engineers to receive vital chain-performance data off-site.

Renold Chain Tel: 0161 437 5221