Getting Proper Maintenance for Your Stromag Brakes

Getting Proper Maintenance for Your Stromag Brakes

Stromag brakes are built to last. However, even the best brakes still need maintenance in order to function correctly.

Improvements have been made over the years to make the maintenance as easy as possible. However, owners still need to know how to troubleshoot and make sure their brakes are running well.

Are you interested in learning how to get maintenance for your brakes? We’ve rounded up some tips for you below — read on to find out.

Keep Track of How Your Stromag Brakes Are Used

There’s no predefined interval of time for how often you should schedule maintenance for Stromag brakes.

Each site has different operating conditions, whether that’s because of weather, frequency of use, or other factors.

That means that you’re the only one who knows how often you should get your brakes checked out.

Stay vigilant to notice any changes in how well the brakes work. If you think that something isn’t right, it may be time for maintenance.

Check the Air Gap

One part of the Stromag brakes that needs to be occasionally checked is the air gap.

An air gap is just what it sounds like — a gap of air between the plate and the brake coil. As the friction lining starts to wear down, the air gap increases.

This can throw off the adjustment of the brakes.

How often the air gap needs to be checked depends on how you’ve been using your brake. Take a look back at your manual for how many millimeters the air gap should be — it varies depending on the model.

If you see the friction lining starting to wear down, don’t operate your brakes again until you’ve reset the air gap.

Don’t Overheat Your Brakes

To prevent needing maintenance too often, be careful not to overheat your brakes.

No matter what brand you use, heat is the mortal enemy of brakes.

When your brakes are overheated, the safety of your equipment is at risk. Overheated brakes can’t do their job.

Overheating causes “fading,” which is when your brakes are really in trouble. If you notice that you have to depress the brake pedals harder than usual, or if it’s taking longer to brake, your brakes are faded.

Prevent this by not putting too much stress on the brakes.

Change The Brake Fluid

This is an easy one to forget about. Most people don’t really think about brake fluid during their day to day operations.

However, brake fluid is an important part of how your brakes operate.

If you don’t change the fluid, it’s more likely to boil under stress. (This goes along with making sure not to overheat your brakes.)

Old brake fluid can also attract moisture. Too much moisture introduces a risk of metal corrosion — which could spell disaster.

You should make sure to change the fluid every two years or so, or as often as recommended for your specific model.

Need More Help?

These are a few ways that you can handle the maintenance of your Stromag brakes on your own. If you’d prefer to have someone else handle it, however, we’ve got you covered.

Check out our brake repair and reline services, or get in touch to find out how else we can help!

Coal train steams through

How to Properly Manage Railroad Friction Materials

Coal train steams through Manufacturers and suppliers have been hard at work over the past year making improvements to friction materials, methods, and management for rail parts.

Improvements have been made to greases and lubrication systems for railroads, and a number of solutions and equipment have become available for providing the best management of wear and tear on the rails.

If you’re interested in learning how to manage railroad friction properly, keep reading for all you need to know about the right friction materials to use!

How to Manage Railroad Friction Materials the Right Way: The 5 Products You Should Be Using

1. Elecsys RFM-100

In 2013, one of the leading providers of machine-to-machine technology solutions and electronics for industrial applications, Elecsys, introduced its RFM-100 remote monitoring system. This monitoring system is one of the friction materials used for top-of-rail (TOR) and gauge-face lubrications.

The RFM-100 works by continually monitoring the following:

  • Tank levels
  • Pump status
  • Material disbursement
  • Wheel/axle count
  • Power availability

Data from the system is accessed by those who are authorized and allows the operator to respond quickly to equipment failures. This, in turn, should increase maintenance efficiency.

2. Interflon Lubrication

Interflon offers a joint/splice bar lubrication product that contains MicPol.

MicPol is a treated form of Teflon. The durable film of MicPol lowers friction, protects against corrosion, dirt, and dust.

The product cleans, creeps, lubricates, and protects and allows for a reduction of product quantities used by up to 90 percent, according to Interflon.

This impressive product offers cost benefits, environmental benefits, and stops lubricants from deteriorating composite pads under the rail.

3. Loram Systems

Loram notes that the right friction management practices allow railroads to improve the stress state of their infrastructure.

Friction materials reduce stress on the railroad infrastructure by controlling track forces and friction.

Loram’s systems work using customizable controllers and the dual positive displacement pumps. This ensures that the correct amount of friction modifier is applied to each rail.

The system also has flexibility. This allows a customer to adapt the same system to ever-changing friction modification, based on specific site demands.

Railmark Bio-Based Rail Lubricants

Railmark Track Works Inc. offers its own branded line of bio-based rail lubricants.

Not only is this one of proper the friction materials you should be using, but it’s cheaper now too!

These new lubricants have a new manufacturing and distribution arrangement that is now able to offer customers a 25 to 33 percent discount on the company’s previous products.

The bio-based rail lubricant meets the EPA’s Environmental Preferable Purchasing criteria and is a USDA BioPreferred product.

SKF/Lincoln Lubrication Systems Solar Panel Kit

Because the majority of lubricators utilize solar panels for power, SKF Lincoln introduced a new solar panel kit designed for durability and security.

The SKF Lincoln solar panel kit was developed to protect the panels from weather damage and vandalism.

SKF Lincoln makes it easy to use too. The kit includes everything required for quick mounting on either the reservoir or at a remote location.

What do you know about friction materials? Tell us in the comments which awesome products we may have missed!

Why Your Industrial Casters Need the Right Industrial Brakes

Why do you need the right industrial brakes for your casters?

It’s necessary to evaluate the different variables to figure out the proper brake selection. It is not as easy as just picking out a brake at whim, as brakes have different functions and forms.

At Kor-Pak, we have the heavy industry parts and service for brakes. We also offer service and maintenance of equipment.

To help you make an informed decision, however, here is a quick guide on industrial brakes and how to pair industrial casters to the right brakes.

Braking Options

Before delving into industrial brakes and casters, you should understand the mechanism behind braking.

Braking is caused by locking mechanisms built into industrial casters. There are a variety of braking options for industrial casters.

The most common brake locks the wheel to stop its rotation, which is perfect for uneven surfaces.

Total lock brakes lock the swivel capacity of the caster and its wheel movement, resulting in a completely stopped device.

Partial brakes turn casters into rigid casters for linear movement only.

How Brakes can Help Your Industrial Caster

Brakes can be very important so when choosing industrial casters, you should also consider the brakes that match.

The benefits to having brakes on your industrial caster include:

Holding Force

When heavier load capacities are involved, you want to know that your device will not run away because there was nothing holding the wheel in place. Brakes are engineered

Brakes are engineered to provide holding force against extreme loads and prevent any movement.

Heavier Load Capacities

When working with industrial casters, you want the ability to move heavier loads.

Brakes can work with heavy loads and provide an expanded holding force, which ensures efficiency and safety during use.

Reduction of Operator Strain

Brakes prevent operators from having to use their entire body to stop or turn a loaded device.

Brakes make tasks even easier by using a foot pedal on either side of the caster, preventing you from constantly having to bend over and keeping you safe.

Best Industrial Brake and Caster Pairs

After understanding how braking works and why they are important, you can move on to deciding what type of caster and brake pair is right for you.

If you’re having trouble deciding on what brake is the best, you must consider the type of caster you’re using and where the casters are being used. Some questions that you should also ponder include:

  • Do you need to stop the casters from moving?
  • Do you need your items to be easier to control?
  • Do you want complete control over your caster-mounted item?

Which Industrial Brakes Are Best For You?

If you’re still having problems deciding on the best industrial brake system after this quick guide on industrial casters and brakes, have no fear.

It can take a lot of time to make an informed decision about your investment, which can save you time and money in the future. We carry the major brands like Stromag, Sumitomo, Marland, SEW Eurodrive for you to choose from.

We have the brake, clutch, and friction expertise to help you figure out what brake is best for you. By working with application engineers and technical salesperson, you will be able to narrow down your choices and make a decision.

Construction worker with cable under the tower crane

Why Crane Safety Should Be Your Top Focus

Construction worker with cable under the tower crane

Technically speaking, the human brain might be the most complex machine to ever grace the earth.

From it have come all other machines that we use in our day-to-day lives, from small laptops to the several-stories-tall cranes that help create our homes, business spaces, and infrastructure.

Companies such as Stromag, Sumitomo, Marland, and SEW Eurodrive provide parts for making cranes and other heavy-duty machinery that we use for building.

But as is the case with most areas of innovation, dealing with heavy-duty machinery comes with particular risks.

Those risks can be life-threatening.

This holds especially true for gigantic cranes.

Why are cranes so dangerous?

For starters, cranes are big and bulky. Plus, they can hold tons suspended in the air.

Most of the time they’re fine.  One of the times they’re not fine is when the wind blows hard.

As you can imagine, strong wind gusts can jostle a crane’s load, which, as said before, can weigh tons.

Imagine tons of metal and other material swinging about in the air above your head.

Then there’s the presence of snow to consider–snow that compacts and makes operating any machinery in it hazardous.

Another issue that frequently arises with cranes is tight corners in the city

Tight corners sharpen wind gusts, which can complicate the problem even further.

In fact, recent statistics show that as many as 90 crane-related deaths occur each year.

In addition to their size, their increasing complication has become a problem.

Like every machine, small or heavy, cranes started out relatively simple and with one task to accomplish.

Over time, the demand from the machine has grown. Thus, features were added, and the overall machine became more complicated to use.

Additionally, there’s no evidence that suggests older machines are more likely to malfunction or collapse, so both older and newer cranes need an equal amount of attention and maintenance.

There is also a general reluctance to bring down a crane even when the weather shows signs of erupting into a wind storm.

That’s because bringing down a crane means lost time and resources.

On top of that, the ground needs to be okayed for laying stuff–literal tons of stuff–down on.

What can be done to improve crane safety?

Some areas are already taking measures to better crane safety.

For example, at some state and city levels, it is a requirement to have a license and/or insurance to even operate a crane.

Another source for recognizing crane safety is workshops.

These workshops discuss the need for safety and the measures that can be taken to implement it.

Another measure you can take is inspecting your equipment.

It is best to inspect your crane routinely and/or if you’re experiencing any sort of trouble with it. Small problems more often than not lead to big problems when left unaddressed.

A thorough inspection will cover all components of the machine, including its switches, alarms, brakes, gears, clutches, electrical devices, and other heavy industry parts.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring the safety of others, of yourself, and of your equipment.

crane hoist selection

How to Pick the Right Crane Hoist

crane hoist selectionAny job working with heavy equipment demands only the very best in parts and supplies. Sourcing less than quality parts could cost people their lives.

This sentiment applies especially to cranes. Choosing the correct crane hoist can make or break your job site.

Hoists come in many different varieties, and you need to know what will work best for your situation.

To make sure disaster never strikes your job site, we’re bringing you our guide on how to pick the right crane hoist.

What’s a Crane Hoist, Exactly?

Most people get the general concept behind a hoist, but don’t know what they’re actually all about.

Yes, hoists move things up and down. That’s the very basic concept; moving something heavy from one place to the next.

However, hoists vary widely in size and application. What you’d use in your garage isn’t the same as what you’d use on a job site.

Since we’re talking about cranes, our focus is on electronic and air powered chain hoists.

Chain hoists give crane operators the strength they need to move heavy objects, often in high danger situations.

They also specialize in vertical lift, resisting grime, are portable, and modular.

Today, we’ll touch on the two main types of chain hoists and why they’re the perfect choice for your next crane hoist.

Electric Chain Hoist

Electric chain hoists work well for lifting large objects in small spaces. That definition isn’t pretty, but it’s true.

The electric motors provide operators with extreme accuracy without sacrificing lifting power or capacity.

If you choose an electric crane hoist, remember to specify what voltage your crane can handle. Mismatching voltages won’t allow your hoist to work with your crane.

Air Powered Chain Hoist

Air powered hoists are the strongest of the heavy lifting chain hoists. Whatever you throw at them, they’ll lift and move.

These hoists are specifically for faster, longer, and more intensive lifting. Their air powered nature also makes them practical where electricity may pose safety hazards (near water).

However, air hoists do require an air compressor. This means extra equipment brought on site, and extra money.

Choosing Your Crane Hoist

Choosing the correct hoist for your crane depends solely on the work you’ll undertake. Every environment is different, and so the correct hoist varies.

We recommend talking to your hoist supplier to get their opinion on the matter. They’ve heard all manner of situations and likely have insight into your unique circumstances.

Before we end our guide, there is one more crane hoist option we should mention. When chain hoists can’t bear your load, wire rope hoists are the answer.

Large cranes commonly used on construction sites are prime candidates for the wire rope hoist.

Choosing the correct crane hoist is vital to the success and safety of your job site. Don’t bet on a hunch when there are lives on the line.

Use our guide to make the correct decision for your next crane hoist. Don’t forget to contact us if you need any help.

Criteria for Selecting Heavy Industry Brakes and Clutches

Marland Clutch

Marland Clutch

Often you find yourself in a challenging MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) quagmire with regard to repairing or replacing your heavy industry (i.e. crane) brakes or clutches.

I am the first to admit there are many, many brake and clutch manufacturers out there. And there are numerous options to choose from within those manufacturers.

You might say to yourself “Where do I start?” when looking for a solution to your brake and clutch challenge.

At face value you might consider a brake is a brake. But please don’t. When considering the best safety factor in selecting the correct brake for your application, you must remember brakes are not an interchangeable commodity.

There are in fact several variables to consider in the proper selection. These include:

Function: stopping, tensioning, emergency, cyclical, redundancy, wind protection, parking-static…

Requirements: torque and speed, safety factor, actuation, duty cycle, minimum and maximum friction, impact mitigation…

Control: automatic and over speed, open vs. closed look, response time, manual override…

Features: mounting, DIN, AISE, materials…

Environment: ambient conditions, seasonal variations, corrosive, dusty or abrasive, hazardous, etc…

Different Types of Heavy Industry Brakes and Clutches

In addition, there are so many different types of brakes: thruster drum or disc brakes, magnet drum or disc brakes, water-cooled brakes, tensioning brakes, air brakes, storm and parking brakes, hydraulic brakes, etc.

There are also numerous different types of friction materials with different formulations and coefficients: woven friction materials, flexible friction materials, rigid friction materials, phenolic wear materials, etc. Coefficients can range from less than 0.1 upwards of .72 and greater.

Brakes take on various forms in terms of their mechanical functionality. Of course, actuation is a major component of this.

Often times, applications do require fail-safe brakes so the brakes apply in the event of a power loss. These brakes are typically spring-set and released by a magnetic coil, AC or DC 3-phase thruster, hydraulic, air, or manual.

Brakes can also be hydraulic or air applied and thus non fail-safe.

There are several different options to choose from in terms of brake styles, mounting, controls, actuation, and accessories (i.e. discs, drums, power units, etc).

Selecting The Right Brake For Your System

How does one make an educated decision in both a timely and cost-effective manner with all these different features and options to choose from?

As with other significant capital business expenditures, the least expensive option is not necessarily the best one. Taking a few more hours, days or even weeks to make an informed decision about your investment may prove to save a great deal of time and money in the long-run.

The best way to approach this is by working with application engineers who possess brake, clutch and friction expertise. Of course, everyone has their own inherent bias.

However a good application engineer and technical salesperson will put safety and quality first. They do so because helping their client obtain a high-quality and long-lasting product is their ultimate motivation.

Considering competition is not a bad thing. In fact, it is extremely important to obtain a second or third opinion in most cases.

Hearing differing perspectives often times compels one to think about the questions at hand as well as other questions you might not have even considered. Ultimately, doing your homework and analysis will lead you to a better, more informed decision.

At Kor-Pak we try to educate our prospects and customers. Our engineers and consultants are motivated to provide exceptional customer service. You are never merely a sale to us, you are a partner in a hopefully long lasting relationship.

Learn more about our Industrial Brake and Clutch Services  as well as our Industrial Brake and Clutch Accessories and Spare Parts.

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Obsolete Parts A Challenge For Passenger Rapid Transit Rail

I recently read a story about the unusual search for obsolete railroad equipment. It was entitled: “BART Turns To eBay For Parts To Keep System Limping Along”. The story was reported on the CBS SF Bay Area News on April 6, 2016.

BART is the acronym for Bay Area Rapid Transit System. This system of passenger railroad cars dates back to 1972. Many of the railroad parts used on the rapid transit system are now obsolete.

The rail agency found certain types of equipment (namely computer and electrical) available on eBay. These parts were often in better condition than their own failing equipment.

I researched a little a little further. I found another online article from The (San Jose) Mercury News dated March 25, 2016. The second article was entitled: “Has BART’s cutting-edge 1972 technology design come back to haunt it?

The rapid transit rail system was designed over 45 years ago. Back then the system used principles “…developed for the aerospace industry rather than tried-and-true rail standards”.

Among other things, the system does not use the standard railroad track width. It track width deviates from the standard being nearly a foot wider. It also uses a flat-edge rail that tilts slightly inward.

Decisions such as these required parts to be custom made. Many of these parts are no longer available or supported. Decades later these parts can’t easily be repaired or replaced. This in turn may have led to the current challenges and incredibly expensive maintenance costs.

“Those one-of-a-kind systems lead to a dearth of readily available replacement parts. Maintenance crews often scavenge parts from old, out-of-service cars to avoid lengthy waits for orders to come in; sometimes mechanics are forced to manufacture the equipment themselves.”

The rail system was originally designed to carry 100,000 people per week. Yet according to BART’s own ” Fiscal Year 2016 Preliminary Budget Memo” ridership averages over 75,000 trips on a typical weekday.

Further, “In 2014, weekday ridership averaged over 410,000, with peak months as high as 440,000.” Some “Peak-hour, peak-direction trains now typically range from 120 to 140 passengers per car..” Thi is far above the system’s standard of 115 passengers per car.

Wikipedia reports on its rapid transit ridership systems list. The report indicates BART’s 140 mile system transported an average daily ridership of 452,600 for the fourth quarter of 2015.

At Kor-Pak we often run into similar requests to source hard to locate replacement parts. One of our specialty areas is the fabrication and replacement of obsolete parts in the freight and passenger rail industry. For more information, please visit our Railroad Industry page where you can also download our Rail Parts Catalog.

Primer On Wind Turbine Energy From US Department of Energy

This video is entitled “Energy 101: Wind Turbines – 2014 Update” and is really informative. It comes to us via the U. S. Department of Energy.

The video starts out by explaining how creaky, old windmills on farms (used to mill grain or pump water or both) were the predecessors for new, modern wind turbines that generate electricity.

The same wind that used to pump water for cattle is now turning giant wind turbines to power cities and homes.

Wind Power Creates Electricity

The principle of today’s enormous wind turbines remains the same – that is to capture wind’s energy which is free and convert it to electricity. This electrical energy is used to power cities and homes.

A video animation shows how the wind turbine works in simple terms.

The blades of the wind turbine work similar to those of an airplane wing. Air waves pass along either side of the blade. It is the blade’s shape that causes the air pressure to be uneven. That pressure is higher on one side of the blade while lower on the other. This uneven pressure causes the blade to spin around the center of the turbine.

The wind turbine’s blades attach to a shaft which connects to a series of gears which increase the rotation. At a high enough speed this starts to produce energy.

A weather vane sits on the top of the wind turbine. The weather vane is connected to a computer which turns the turbine into the wind so it can capture the maximum amount of energy.

Why wind turbines are so tall.

That’s simple. The higher up the windier it gets. And more wind naturally means more electricity.

Larger turbines also can capture wind energy more efficiently. The long blades can sweep a circle in the sky.

Even small wind farms are capable of generating enough electricity to power thousands of homes. Larger farms provide much more clean energy for our businesses and homes.

Another source of wind power lies in our oceans and the Great Lakes. The U.S. Energy Department supports innovative offshore wind projects. This will help build offshore wind turbines in U.S. waters.

Over 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline. Thus capturing wind power off of America’s shores can provide energy to countless homes and businesses.

Learn more about Wind Power at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Kor-Pak Corp. helps the renewable energy industry by providing wind turbine brakes, pads and accessories. Learn more by visiting on Wind Power page.

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Brake Clutch and Friction Systems Needed In Heavy Industry

Crane Brakes

Crane Brake

A typical braking system applies a (i.e. electromagnetic) force to apply friction, or mechanical resistance. This friction causes heat in its attempt to slow down and even stop a device in motion or to simply maintain it’s position without any motion.

Think of pressing your brake while driving your car. Your foot sends hydraulic brake fluid to a piston which in turn causes each brake pad to apply friction on your tires’ brake discs. The friction slows down each wheel and eventually stops your car.

Heavy Industry Brake, Clutch and Friction Systems

In heavy industry the brake, clutch and friction system is also used to slow and stop passenger or freight trains, wind turbines, cranes or hoists, etc. Even though there many types of brake system designs, their operation remains basically the same – to stop the movement.

When it comes to the selection of a heavy industrial brake, clutch and friction system it is imperative that one understands some key variables. These requisite and relevant variables are most critical to selecting the optimal product for your application.

I suggest there are three primary steps one should take in properly assessing an application.

  1. Recognizing and realizing the application and its fundamentals is the first step in the brake, clutch and friction selection process. To do so, you should identify the industry, application and specific parameters involved for the particular application. Is it a static or dynamic application? What is the operating environment like? (I.E. Is it hazardous?) What is the brake function and requirements? What is the system being used for?
  2. Now you must understand how to use this information and apply it to your specific application. In order to do this, one must fully understand exactly what these variables mean. You must comprehend such concepts as: static vs. dynamic; full motor and mechanical braking torque; friction coefficient as well as several others. These will be paramount when it comes to properly selecting a brake, clutch and friction material.
  3. Once you understand the variables and industry application specific aspects to your application it is time to apply these fundamentals and select your brake, clutch and friction material. You might consider collaborating with application engineers to perform a careful due diligence. This will ultimately lead to a better decision making process.

There are many brake and clutch manufacturers and many options to choose from. Our fast paced and price sensitive society has propelled business culture into often times rushing to decisions. This definitely has not necessarily helped industry as a whole.

At times the least expensive option is not the best alternative nor does the good old boy network work to your advantage. Take your time to investigate your alternatives.

This may help you make the best decision about a capital business expenditure. Ultimately in the long run it may prove to save your company a great deal of time and money.

Kor-Pak Corp. is an industrial brake and clutch specialist.  Learn more about how Kor-Pak can help you resource your industrial brake, clutch and friction parts.

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GKN Stromag Named A Key Player In Brakes Clutch Market

GKN Stromag LogoA February, 2016 report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA) named GKN Stromag a key player in the industrial brakes and clutches market place. Amongst other highlights, the report forecasts a 40% growth in the global market for industrial automation equipment from 2013 to 2018. This in turn will likely set a very strong demand for industrial brakes and clutches.

Kor-Pak Corporation is a proud distributor of GKN Stromag brakes and clutches. GKN Stromag produces hydraulically, pneumatically, and electrical spring applied brakes. These are amongst the most highly developed and reliable components for modern and energy efficient drives and insure hoisting and driving safety.

GKN Stromag Brakes offer high degrees of protection, low maintenance as well as fast and simple high wear resistant brake lining replacements.

Learn more about GKN Stromag brakes, brake systems,brake calipers and more at GKN Stromag Brakes product page, or the Stromag Clutches page for clutchesm or contact us for a quote. And always, please remember: Your ‘Special Orders’ don’t upset us! We’re experts at finding solutions to your emergencies, unusual challenges and even odd-ball requests.

Other key takeways from the GIA report include a rising trend in industrial activity and the adoption of automation solutions. They also report an increasing popularity of electromagnetic caliper brakes and rugged brakes in hazardous environments.

The United States portion of the global market should approach one billion dollars by 2020. Future growth will be centered in Asia-Pacific, Latin America as well the Middle East and Africa

GIA publishes and sells market research materials on off the shelf market industries ranging from baby toiletries to nuclear power. Headquartered in San Jose, CA, the company was founded in 1987. Learn more details about and how to purchase a copy of the entire report on the GIA Website.

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