Category Archive: Clutches

In a Jam? Let BLM Solve Your Mechanical Troubles

In clutch situations (pun intended), not every manufacturer can come through with alternative solutions for originally specified equipment. That’s what sets BLM apart from other clutch manufacturers. Our portfolio of over 4,000 drawings enables us to modify designs for any challenging application.

It is one application in particular that we feel best represents our custom capabilities and extreme problem solving skills. The project involved an OEM customer in the City Waterworks industry and a 60 HP pump that was continually failing because the OEM clutch was unable to maintain alignment. This situation was very problematic as it disrupted service and prevented the system from operating properly. To maintain alignment between the between the drive and driven shaft, the OEM knew they needed a better clutch design.

Luckily for them they also knew who to turn to for a clutch that can be specifically designed for their application. Our solution consisted of an 8” GMG 80M3 clutch. This was a modification of a BLM drawing which used a gear coupling that allows for misalignment. The modified design also fit the space requirement while meeting tightest tolerances of ±0.003”. The most impressive part of this project is that we delivered 20 custom iron 8” centrifugal clutches in 3 weeks!

Special projects like this one are just one part of our comprehensive services. As a custom designer and manufacturer of centrifugal clutches for large and small applications, we are regularly called in to develop new solutions for existing problems. Our customers know that we can deliver correct clutch configurations for problematic applications and meet specific requirements.

Do you have unique requirements that demand a custom configuration? At BLM we are experts at designing, machining, and manufacturing centrifugal clutches that meet exacting project standards. Let us help you keep your systems running smoothly and efficiently and keep the jams on the toast!

Tornado Season Is Here: Be Prepared For Cleanup Operations With BLM Automatic Clutches In Your Chippers And Equipment

The official 2016 “Tornado Season” has arrived in the U.S., with tornadoes already striking the East Coast and southern states in the late winter and early days of March. More tornadoes and “clusters” of tornadoes are predicted for the spring months. One recent report (Tornado Clusters Becoming More Deadly and More Common), says, “U.S. tornadoes are becoming more likely to strike in clusters. A NOAA study, published in October 2014 in the journal Science, showed a rise in the number of days with multiple reported tornadoes. Another study, published in July 2014 in the journal Climate Dynamics, found a similar clustering of tornadoes.” According to another weather resource, USTornadoes.com, a website dedicated to providing “the information people seek on tornadoes in the United States,” the U.S. can expect the tornado count to be “near normal this spring,” with 511 tornadoes being the average number of tornadoes occurring this time of year each year from 1991-2010.  

The expected occurrence of hundreds of tornadoes and more clusters of tornadoes means there will be lots of cleanups ahead. Fallen tree branches and scattered dirt and debris tossed by the tornadoes and other major storms this spring will require chippers, saws and other equipment to handle cleanup tasks. BLM Automatic Four Block Series clutches are commonly used in chippers used by municipal, utility and construction workers across the U.S.

We like to think our clutches help make everyone’s job a little easier, especially after a tornado or storm. BLM Automatic clutches do help make the cleanup of fallen trees and branches more efficient and easier to manage for the people involved in what can be a very stressful time. You don’t want to worry about a chipper starting or equipment being overloaded when you’re dealing with a tornado’s or a storm’s aftermath. Whatever the post-tornado or post-storm procedures might be, BLM Automatic clutches play an integral role in getting the cleanup and repairs done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Whatever the application, if it requires starting assistance and/or overload protection, our clutches can help do the job. BLM Automatic customizes the clutches we manufacture based on our customers’ needs and the specific applications. But, we produce two standard designs: BLM Automatic Four Block Series clutches with ¼-50HP, and Six Block Series clutches with up to 3,000HP. As we previously mentioned, the Four Block Series clutches are commonly used in chippers, and they’re also used in tampers, concrete pumps, mortar mixers and conveyors, and in many other applications. Six Block Series clutches are used in large and varied industrial and commercial applications.

But, getting back to talking about tornadoes and the spring cleanup season, we hope the predictions are wrong and this year proves to be a quieter year for tornado occurrences. Either way, please stay safe, and rest assured knowing that you’re prepared for cleanup operations with BLM Automatic clutches in your chippers and cleanup equipment.

Problems Most Commonly Solved by BLM Automatic Clutches

In our December blog post we explained how centrifugal clutches worked and why they are valuable components in industrial equipment. In this month’s post we are discussing how a centrifugal clutch can solve problems that may be stumping even the most experienced maintenance team.

In the course of a day, there are many practical problems that occur to slow down, stop, or damage mechanical equipment and as many practical solutions to remedy those problems. As we have experienced, many problems could be solved by using a properly sized centrifugal clutch.

A BLM clutch provides the following solutions to solve or eliminate common equipment problems (listed in boldface type) associated with these conditions:

  • Cuts the duration of high amperage draw when motor is starting to less than one second.
  • Overheating motors when starting is prevented by providing the equivalent of a no-load start.
  • Using oversized motors for starting, which can cause shock loads and bad power factor, are not necessary since the clutch enables using a motor with a capacity closer to the running load.
  • No need to use reduced voltage starters since simple across-the-line starters can be used with a clutch.
  • Starting shock, a condition that causes damage to moving parts and is a major cause of equipment maintenance, is not an issue with a BLM clutch since soft starts increase the life of components such as belts and gears.
  • Fragile materials (wires, thread, paper) are often subject to breakage as the result of stating shock; the gentile, low torque starting of a clutch eliminates breakage and downtime.
  • Difficulty of starting heavy loads is problematic but a clutch selected for cushioned, high torque starts can easily handle heavy loads.
  • Motor burnout because of overloads won’t occur with a clutch that slips before the motor is damaged.
  • High overload torque capacity of the motor causes overload damage. A properly selected clutch slips under the overload at a torque level lower than the motor capacity.
  • Sudden overloads that cause damage due to the flywheel effect of the motor rotor are eliminated because the clutch will slip when a jam-up occurs to protect against damage to the motor.

BLM has the experience and expertise to engineer custom centrifugal clutches that will solve the most challenging equipment problems. If you are experiencing any of the above problems, you will see immediate improvement after installing a centrifugal clutch from BLM.

Contact us to speak with an expert at solving difficult mechanical problems!

 

The How and Why of Centrifugal Clutches

BLM designs and manufactures centrifugal clutches for a wide variety of small and large applications. They are integral components in machinery in almost every industry and the benefits of using a centrifugal clutch are many. This important component is ideal for starting po wer equipment safely and effectively.

How a centrifugal clutch operates

The main purpose of a centrifugal clutch is to connect the power source (engine, motor, turbine, etc.) to the load that is accelerated. It uses centrifugal force to turn the drive shaft and acts as a transmission activated by the increasing rpm of the engine. It uses centrifugal force to turn the drive shaft and basically acts as a transmission that is activated by the increasing rpm of the engine. Sizing the clutch to the running requirements of the load, and not the horsepower capacity of the motor, allows the motor to develop maximum torque and offers the advantage of using a smaller motor and gear reducer.

Utilizing a centrifugal clutch allows maximum torque with minimum current draw. This is the most efficient condition for accelerating the load as the clutch does the slipping and heat dissipation, preventing the motor from absorbing and becoming damaged by the heat. Clutches can be adjusted for capacity by varying the weight of the internal operating mechanism enabling a wide range within each clutch size.

Why choose a centrifugal clutch

When the clutch is properly selected it will eliminate BLM_Dec06084_001shock loading of the power train,
enable smooth acceleration, and provide overload protection to the motor and machinery if an overload situation should occur. BLM clutches are designed to:

  • Automatically engage and disengage
  • Enable motor start without load
  • Allow smooth acceleration without shock
  • Permit smaller motor use
  • Slip in overload conditions
  • Eliminate the need for starting equipment
  • Save energy when starting up


custom centrifugal solutionsCentrifugal clutches are widely used in machinery throughout industry, including mining, manufacturing, and the military, to protect motors from damaging conditions and to keep machinery running at optimal levels.

BLM’s centrifugal clutches are available in a wide range of sizes with custom solutions available for any application. To learn more about these products, please contact BLM today or visit our website.

Coming Through in the Clutch—BLM Celebrates all Veterans

November is the month where we set aside a day to remember and thank our veterans for all they have sacrificed for us. On November 11th, the U.S. celebrates Veteran’s Day and Canada celebrates Remembrance Day. No matter what it’s named, it reminds us to consider all the sacrifices the men and women of the military make while protecting our freedoms.

At BLM Automatic Clutch, we don’t just think of our veterans’ one day a year but we recognize them daily. In fact, military personnel are readily in our thoughts as we have received the call to design and manufacture centrifugal clutches for defense industry applications.

In the past, our custom capabilities have been called upon to assist the Navy and the Army with components for special projects. One such project required us to manufacture a 6” clutch designed to for a 21 HP, 3600 RPM/1500 Idle chiller used during the Desert Storm conflict. We have also produced clutches that were critical components of shipboard helicopter elevators and ventilation systems for military tanks.

Innovative solutions are a core mission at BLM Automatic Clutch, and we are committed to meeting the needs of all of our customers no matter how rigorous the applications. The quality, service, and dedication in our work is what drives us to meet the high standards our customers require and deserve.

In honor of our men and women who have chosen to serve their countries with military service, we say, “Thank You.” You work to keep us safe, and we work to make products that will help keep you safe.

OEMs and BLM Automatic Clutch: Partners for Centrifugal Solutions Success!

We love working with OEMs! Throughout our experience providing centrifugal solutions, BLM has partnered with all types of manufacturers, providing the best solutions for their centrifugal clutch needs. Why do we enjoy working with equipment manufacturers so much? When we work with OEMs, we usually get the opportunity to start our working relationship at the very beginning of a project, when we can really dive into the project and play an integral role in the equipment’s design from the very beginning. We enjoy partnering with OEMs from start to finish – from the initial stages of the equipment’s design, right through the manufacturing phase, and eventually to its application and use. BLM always provides centrifugal clutch solutions that are appropriate and fine-tuned for specific applications.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of details and specs involved in equipment manufacturing. But that’s what makes our role in our partnerships with OEMs so enjoyable – and so critical. Our experience has set us up to understand and accommodate an OEM’s needs and special requests, from start to finish through any project that includes a centrifugal clutch, and we take great pride in providing the most economical solutions. Working with us, OEMs also have the opportunity to customize their centrifugal clutches, as well, and we can custom paint them with a company’s colors and labeling. Additionally, to accommodate an OEM’s need for quick turnaround, BLM accepts blanket orders to facilitate the manufacturing process of centrifugal clutches.. We want our OEM customers – and everyone – to know they can always count on us to provide centrifugal solutions in a timely fashion!

One more important note: At BLM, we understand centrifugal clutches more than anyone else, and we know that every detail and every spec, no matter how small or seemingly “insignificant,” can significantly impact a centrifugal clutch and how well it functions. (See our recent blog post that talks more in-depth about how to avoid centrifugal clutch failure.)

OEMs that partner with BLM know they can count on our expertise in providing the best solutions for their centrifugal clutch needs. We listen to their requests, and take the time to understand applications and details, and then we offer OEMs the most economical and efficient centrifugal solutions. We also offer prototypes and consult with all of our customers – not just OEMs – through every manufacturing stage, ensuring successful end results. Learn more about how we can work together and partner for success by visiting our website.

BLM Automatic Clutches Used Around The World

The seasons might be changing, but that doesn’t mean the vacations and traveling stop. In fact, according to AAA 98.6 million Americans travel during the holiday season.

So what does that mean for BLM Automotic Clutch? Well, the fact of the matter is, we help your travels become easier by providing the clutches for the conveyor belts used for your luggage.

Once you hand off your suitcase to an attendant, they ticket it and send it on a conveyor belt meant to get your luggage onto the correct flight in ample time. After you land you also wish to receive your bags by a hassle free conveyor belt system. With BLM clutches on the conveyor belts, they is sure to run quickly and smoothly as expected.

Not only can you find BLM Automatic clutches in airports around the world but also on all types of conveyor belt systems including the mining industry, agricultural, and food and beverage sectors. With BLM Automatic clutches conveyors result in minimum stop and slip problems.

BLM Automatic Clutch is certain that whatever your application our clutches will perform to the highest standards. Our Four Block Series clutch is the perfect solution to your clutch needs. For more information about our clutches please visit our website.

We Disagree with Kermit-the-Frog: It IS Easy Being Green with Centrifugal Clutches

When the popular American television series Sesame Street first aired almost 46 years ago, the manufacturing industries weren’t concerned, or weren’t as concerned, with “sustainability” and with “being green,” as everyone is today. Those of us who grew up with Kermit-the-Frog singing and complaining about “being green” know he wasn’t referring to sustainability when he was singing. But now, in 2015, you hear manufacturers and companies in all industries talking about sustainability and reporting about how they’re “being green.” Some manufacturers are repeating Kermit-the-Frog’s words, and saying, “It’s not easy being green…” They’re pointing out challenges they’re facing, or mentioning some complaints about the costs and reporting requirements associated with sustainability efforts. Companies and manufacturers are looking for ways to be more sustainable and more green.

Organized efforts, initiatives, and media, regularly offer ideas and information to help companies from all industries “be green.” Greenbiz.com is one example of an information source dedicated to sustainability in business. The website says it “advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability…” A recent article on the site, 10 Lessons for Future Sustainability Leaders, asks, “Is sustainability part or your core strategy?” The article continues by answering the question and saying, “To create a high-quality integrated [sustainability] report, you must answer this question affirmatively.”

custom centrifugal solutionsIf sustainability and “being green” is important to your company, and if you’re a manufacturer using centrifugal clutches, you know that centrifugal clutches make it easier to be green. As we originally reported in an industry news release six years ago, “BLM’s distinctive blue clutches have always been a green solution, long before it was politically correct. BLM has always produced an energy efficient clutch.”

Here’s an overview of how our centrifugal clutches save energy and help manufacturers “be green”: An electric motor with a centrifugal clutch starts under no load and does not engage and drive the load until it reaches near rated speed. Once up to speed, a motor has more torque to start and accelerate the load and it consumes much less current than a motor that must struggle to start under full load.

In addition to reduced electrical power consumption costs, there are other “green” benefits offered by our blue clutches:

-They’re more economical because the motor is “right-sized” and not over-sized. (See our previous blog post for more information about proper clutch size.)

-A standard motor with a clutch runs more efficiently than an oversized motor running below its full-rated load.

-Clutches can promote and increase motor life by as much as 5x due to the shortened high-current draw saving motor insulation and windings.

Take a look at our website to learn more about how centrifugal clutches are a green and clean alternative, and see how it IS easy to be green with centrifugal clutches.

Why For Centrifugal Clutches, Size Matters

Size matters when you’re designing and manufacturing centrifugal clutches! We know this from our experience working with our customers who have come to use from many different industries throughout the years. If you’re not already familiar with BLM Automatic Clutch, we’re a family owned company, which designs and manufactures centrifugal clutches.

custom centrifugal clutch sizesWhenever we’re designing and manufacturing centrifugal clutches for our customers, we rely on our customers to provide us with accurate information and specifications. We work closely with each customer to learn about any special or unique requirements for the clutches. Fully understanding their operations is critical in determining the right size centrifugal clutch within each specific application.

When it comes to the speed and the horsepower RPM, this information also must be accurate. If the information about the speed and horsepower is incorrect, the clutch may only partially engage but will still try to drive a full load on partial engagement resulting in clutch failure. Another possible scenario is that the running speeds are inaccurate and the clutch blows up.

Determining how many belts on a pulley application and the number of horsepower transmitted by each belt is necessary. Sometimes horsepower transmitted by manufacturer supplied equipment is insufficient to maximize the engine capacity, this results in an oversell of the size of the engine. The solution is to have more belts or a smaller engine.

Ultimately, the correct clutch size is critical for the overall performance and the longevity of a centrifugal clutch. Also having the correct clutch size can prevent damage or malfunction and costly downtime. To prevent any of these scenarios from happening we encourage our customers to share with us all accurate information and run each clutch within its intended application parameters.

We’d be happy to tell you more about why it’s so critical for manufacturers of centrifugal clutched to get accurate specifications and information from the end users of the centrifugal clutches. Reach out to us at any time with any questions you may have.

Could a Cross-Country Pipeline Solve Problems on Both Coasts?

Recently, we’ve been hearing about a theoretical pumping solution that has been getting nationwide attention. It has a lot of people asking, “Could this really work?”

It’s a common sense idea that began from regular folks questioning and hypothesizing: can we take the overabundance of snow in Boston, and transport it to California, a state suffering from a massive drought? At first it sounds like a crazy idea, but it might actually work.

This winter, the Boston area has been pummeled with snow—constant storms dumping record levels of it. Currently, it’s estimated that the amount of snow equates to about 5 billion gallons of water.

At the same time, California is experiencing a terrible drought, and experts say that it would take 11 trillion gallons of water to reverse it. So while the 5 billion gallons of Boston’s snow is only a fraction of the 11 trillion California needs, it’s a start. But is it possible, and if so, how?

It’s been proposed that a pipeline be built from Boston to California, a distance of 2,600 miles (to Los Angeles). Rather than collecting and then dumping the snow into the harbor, the snow would be collected and sent through the pipeline, pumping it cross-country. Of course, this would involve serious amounts of money, but money is already being spent on snow removal, and the California drought is costing countless amounts of money and energy.

So it seems what began almost as a joke—send us your snow!—maybe, just maybe, could work.

It’s unknown if this theory will ever come into existence, but at BLM we know that if a 2,600-mile-long pipeline is built to help save California, our clutches will be strong and powerful enough to make it work.

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