A rust-free chain for Bundaberg’s iconic drinks maker

Based in the small town of Bundaberg in Queensland, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has been making some of Australia’s most popular non-alcoholic beverages since the 1960s.

Over the past few years, BSC’s Bundaberg branch has been working with the beverage company as a trusted distributor of industrial products and services. BSC Sales Representative James Mcfarlane regularly checks on Bundaberg Brewed Drinks’ production plant to make sure the plant is well-supplied with their required products.

It was during one of these routine visits that Bundaberg Brewed Drinks Engineering Manager, Daniel Engelbrecht, sought James’ advice on finding suitable roller chains for the rinsing machines – which are used to wash up to 400,000 of the company’s iconic ‘stubby’ bottles every day.

The 60-metre long chain houses the cleats and rubbers that hold the bottles upside down while water sprays rinse the bottles. As Daniel explains, the existing heavy-duty coated chains tended to get rusted in the presence of water and chemicals and wore out quickly.

“The chain operates in a very wet area so we cannot use mild steel or even hard steel chains because these get rusted and the rust can get washed up into the bottles. We also cannot lubricate the chains as we do not want to wash the bottles with greasy water. Previously, we have been using chains with special coatings, but the chemicals we use for washing the bottles attack the coating and it shortens the chains’ life,” says Daniel.

James’ recommendation to Daniel was to use stainless steel Diamond chains, which could provide the desired level of corrosion resistance, while being strong enough to withstand the wear.

“As the roller chains go over the sprockets, they turn 270 degrees in the linear direction as well as 270 degrees sideways. The twisting movement coupled with the chain rubbing on the plate resulted in the wearing down of the chain’s corrosion protection coating. Daniel and his team had not had a good experience with their previous chains as the coating would wear quickly due to this, causing the chains to corrode sooner,” says James.

“The Diamond stainless steel chains have excellent corrosion resistance in addition to offering wear resistance that the Bundaberg team was looking for to get sufficient life out of their chains. The corrosion resistance of Diamond’s stainless steel outlasts the previous coated chains and they have not been experiencing that same wear removal of the chain’s protective feature,” he adds.

Since switching to the Diamond stainless steel chains, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks has been able to extend the service life of the chains and Daniel says he is happy he took James’ advice.

“We have been using the Diamond chains for the past nine months and they are still performing very well. In the past, we were lucky to get six months from a chain,” says Daniel. “The chains are also very cost-competitive, so we are very happy with the performance overall.”

He says the collaboration between Bundaberg Brewed Drinks and BSC has been very successful over the years.

“We have worked with other suppliers before but the solutions they offered were not what we were looking for. The BSC team has experts specialising in different fields, so they can provide us with the right solution every time.”

Diamond produces a range of single-pitch and double-pitch stainless steel chains to suit different applications. Troy Markland, BSC’s national product manager for power transmission says the most common Diamond stainless steel chains are the 300 series.

“The 300 series stainless steel chains offer the most corrosion resistance and are the most common chains in the food and beverage applications. The 600 series also provide very good corrosion resistance, but they have a higher wear resistance,” he explains.

Apart from the off-the-shelf chains available at all BSC branches, Troy says BSC can also order special chains from the factory when a customer requires customised chain lengths, chains with special attachments or chains that are paired together.

“The chains provided to Bundaberg Brewed Drinks are 300 series chains with extended pins to enable them to accommodate the bottle grippers. We ordered it specifically from overseas for Bundaberg Brewed Drinks to use for their bottle rinsing application,” he adds.

When it comes to the maintenance of chains drive systems, Troy says it is crucial to keep the sprockets in good condition.

“Extended chain life can be achieved by ensuring sprockets are in good condition. The sprockets should be inspected at every chain replacement or at set maintenance intervals.”

Correct tension of the chain is another vital aspect in the maintenance process, Troy elaborates.
“Through periodic measurement of the length of the chain and comparing it to the maximum allowable elongation for that particular chain, you can prevent any unexpected failures. The chain should be replaced when elongation reaches 1.5 per cent for length-matched, indexing, vertical orientation, no slack take-up or fixed centre drives or 3 per cent for standard drives,” he says.

“For example, the chain drive in the bottle rinsing machine is a critical drive because if the chain elongates excessively, it can no longer grip the bottles properly and the bottles will fall and smash.”
Troy says the BSC team are all well experienced to assist customers with the maintenance of their chain drives.

“We have the technical capability to assist and determine sprocket conditions. Where needed, we can also educate customers on the correct way of inspecting the sprockets, to ensure maximum life for their equipment,” he concludes.

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Building a bond that lasts

Baler chain failures can be very frustrating when they happen in the middle of the busy harvesting season, particularly at night. As Troy Markland, Product Manager at BSC explains, the broken chain often needs to be replaced right there in the field to continue the day’s job, causing serious delays and reduced productivity.

“There’s also always the risk that a failed or a badly fitted chain can damage other components such as the sprockets,” he says.

When one of BSC’s customers, Rob Pickles from Hayanmi Fodder, complained about frequent chain failures on his baler machines, the BSC Shepparton team suggested switching to Diamond’s high strength (HS) series roller chains for increased reliability.

Rob’s business, Hayanmi Fodder, owns two Krone balers and engages in agricultural contracting work in the north central regions of Victoria, producing 15,000 – 20,000 bales per machine.

Hayanmi Fodder’s existing baler chains were wearing out quickly when put through the heavy workload and failing before even one hay season was over.

When Rob contacted the BSC Shepparton branch in search for a solution, he was advised to switch to the Diamond 60HS-1 chains.

As Troy explains, the HS series of Diamond drive chains features through-hardened, medium carbon alloy steel pins, which enable them to resist higher impact and shock loads and offer better working load capacity compared to the standard heavy series drive chains.

“Diamond’s high strength series chains are built to ASME/ANSI B29.1 and B29.28 standards, making them suited to applications subjected to heavy loads or lifting,” says Troy.

Following the upgrade to Diamond 60HS-1 chains, the reliability of Hayanmi Fodder’s baler machines has improved dramatically, says Rob.

“We now tend to put a new set of roller chains on the balers at the start of the harvest season and we get through the season without a hitch. Sometimes the same chains last for two consecutive seasons without needing replacement. Before this, we sometimes had to replace the chains up to three times each year.”

As an additional benefit, Rob says replacing the chains has also reduced the frequency of sprocket wear on the machines.

This, as Troy explains, is due to the Diamond 60HS-1 chain maintaining correct pitch length, ensuring positive and accurate chain and sprocket engagement, combined with a good lubrication process.

In addition to the high strength series, Diamond Chain also manufactures hoist chain and rollerless lift chain for heavy loads or lifting applications.

“The Diamond hoist chain is dimensionally identical to standard series chains but also incorporates pins produced from medium carbon alloy steel, through-hardened to give chains higher working load capacity and additional resistance to fatigue,” says Troy.

“The Diamond rollerless lift chains are designed for tension linkages where frequent articulation requires the increased bearing area of roller chain. Rollerless lift chains are dimensionally identical to standard series chains but are produced without rollers,” he adds.

As strong as the new chains on his balers are, Rob says so is the bond of friendship that has formed over the years between him and the BSC Shepparton Branch Manager, Adam Failla – whom he refers to as his “mate”.

“I’ve known Adam for a long time, and he knows his products very well. In fact, all of the BSC team have a good product knowledge and they are very down-to-earth, so it’s easy to get their advice when an issue comes up,” he says.

“I’ve worked with the Shepparton branch for many years and I can say with confidence that whatever spare part or product I need, they can find and provide to me in the shortest time possible,” he adds.

Adam says as industry experts and suppliers of reputed agricultural equipment parts, the BSC team engages closely with farmers and agricultural contractors through regular site visits and participation in agricultural field days to understand their requirements.

“When we meet with the farmers and our customers, be it during a visit to their farm or on an agricultural field day, we always ask them questions to see if we can offer better products than what they are currently using to get better life out of their equipment,” says Adam.

“Contractors like Rob invest heavily in their machines and they put these through very different conditions. For example, some contractors go to the Mallee region, where the farming conditions are a lot different than what they experience here. The soil tends to be drier and dustier up there, whereas we have had more rain here near Shepparton.

“So, when we offer a solution, we keep in mind all of that based on our experience and this helps our customers get better life and service from their equipment,” he concludes.

Diamond High Strength (HS) Roller Chains:

  • Built to ASME/ANSI B29.1 and B29.28 standards
  • Intended for heavy shock or pulsating loads
  • Through-hardened, medium carbon alloy steel pins
  • More resistance to heavy loads compared to standard heavy series drive chains

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Keeping F&B manufacturers on track with Diamond precision

When conveying material, it is often necessary to attach additional conveyor belt products, such as a scraper or flaps, or extend flighting between a pair of parallel chains. In food and beverage (F&B) systems, these can be necessary to ensure the product flows to the right area in the process. And in order to attach these products to a system, often a roller chain attachment will be implemented.

When used in pairs, attachments need to be exactly in the same position on both chains (called a matched pair) to avoid potential problems developing, particularly in plants that have taken advantage of robotics. For example, if a beverage company is bottling items and then placing them into a filling line, the robotic systems will need to depend upon the accuracy of the roller chain attachments to avoid making a mistake. If the attachment is even slightly out of place, it can lead to the bottles crushing the packaging or cause the bottles to break, leading to potential occupational health and safety issues. Not only that, but the financial impacts of such a situation can be significant and require a shutdown in order to rectify.

This is why the Diamond Chain Company, operating through CBC Australia, offers available length matching on its wide range of high-performing attachments.

A Class I match assures that the longest and shortest chain in a given set will not vary in overall length by more than 600 microns per metre. Using an ANSI #80 chain as an example, the length of two 118 pitch long chains with a Class I match would not vary by more than 1.5 millimetres.

Class II matches are much more stringent, and are suitable for operations where increased accuracy is necessary or when there is a longer distance between the pair of chains. A Class II match will assure that the longest and shortest chain in a given set will not vary in overall length by more than 167 microns per metre. Using the same example as above, the lengths of two chains 118 pitches long will not vary in overall length by more than half a millimetre. Class II matching can be quite difficult to achieve and requires some unique procedures.

Diamond has more than 100 different attachments within its range, for a number of popular dimensions. Troy Markland, Product Manager at CBC Australia, says this is a conservative estimate, as the company is able to provide custom solutions to handle the thousands of different options required.

“CBC will work closely with customers in Australia, helping them to identify what equipment is required, the length of chain needed and the type of chain itself as part of the order process,” he explains.

“We have an extremely close working relationship with Diamond as the exclusive distributor in Australia. We relay not only the product information but other key details such as availability schedules, to help our customers plan their maintenance.”

CBC’s staff are also trained by Diamond to help customers get the most out of the company’s products across a number of industries.

For the F&B sector, Diamond uses U.S Food and Drug Administration-approved materials and H1 food-grade lubricants approved for incidental contact to protect the chain’s structure and strength while providing food safety. Materials and lubricants are selected to meet the specific needs for sanitation, processing, cooking and sterilisation. CBC staff work with customers to determine exactly which chain would work best for each application.

In addition, CBC also provides local support and training. In particular, Markland says CBC can perform periodic measurement to minimise the impact of elongation.

“A roller chain, like most equipment, will suffer from wear over time. As a result, the chain will begin to elongate and eventually need to be replaced,” he says.

“Periodic measurement means we can detect potential issues before they become a problem and help customers develop a maintenance plan so any work can be scheduled – not during a breakdown.”

Markland adds that CBC prides itself on its quality support, both in person and online. Customers are able to go to the Diamond Chain Company website and access a series of case studies, frequently asked questions, and ask dedicated engineers for help to solve any problems, while CBC can provide local expertise.

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