Category Archive: Clutches

Winter is Here And Our Clutches Are Everywhere

When you live in a cold-weather climate, there are a few things you can be sure of come winter including temperatures dropping, snow falling, and our BLM clutches working every step of the way. You might not see them, or know exactly where our clutches are in use, but they’re pretty much everywhere.   BLM clutches have countless applications, especially during the winter season.

In fact, the lifecycle of a winter storm relies on our clutches. Clutches are used before a storm when salt throwers are covering the roads and after the storm, when road sweepers come to clear the snowfall.  After the storm has passed, chippers using our clutches are fed the fallen debris ensuring safer road conditions.   Finally, pumping equipment also depends on BLM clutches for flood control due to melted snow & ice.

If you’re braving the snow and are planning a winter ski trip this season, you may even be sitting on a ski lift that uses our clutches.  In fact, we supplied clutches on snow throwers at a number of ski venues including Sochi.  No matter what the ski conditions, our clutches are working so the ski resort can operate smoothly.

Perhaps you are tired of the cold and are planning a winter getaway; well you’re still not getting away from the use of clutches.  Clutches used on ski resorts’ lifts are also used for tropical islands’ gondolas.  Regardless, if you are on a ski lift being brought up a snowy mountain or on a gondola photographing a rainforest,  clutches may be ensuring your safety.

The fact is, we provide custom clutches for so many different uses, but the one factor that remains constant is our quality.  Our applications may change, but our craftsmanship never wavers.

With all of these applications, we at BLM continue to see more and more business. As a result, we continue to see the need for more skilled workers and continue to be grateful for the loyal, talented team members we have.  We’re a happy bunch and are especially happy to keep making clutches of unmatched quality that keep winter safe and fun.

4 Things to Know about Centrifugal Clutches and Go Karts

The centrifugal clutch: as versatile as it is important. Not only are there many advantages that this type of clutch provides—energy savings, smooth acceleration, ease of maintenance, etc.—but there are so many applications that benefit from it.

Go karts are one of them. In fact, a high quality centrifugal clutch can make for a very good Go-kartsgo kart, which, in turn, can provide team building, stress release, and hours of recreation. But as fun as go karts are, there are countless considerations regarding the clutch used in them, and these considerations must be taken seriously.

These are four of them:

1) Not just any clutch should be used in just any go kart; putting high-quality industrial clutches in an ordinary go kart is not ideal, and can affect the lifespan of the clutch.

2) A controlled environment is best for industrial clutches. Go karts designed specifically by an engineer to do particular test runs help make the clutch last longer. The engineering of the kart affects how the equipment will run, and this must be carefully researched and designed.

3) Variable speeds will change the clutch’s capabilities; industrial clutches such as BLM’s are designed to run at a specific RPM. This is also where the controlled environment helps, as the size of the track and speed are also controlled.

4) The way you drive a go kart affects the clutch. For example, driving with your foot on the brake the entire time, or quickly stopping and then going repeatedly affect its lifespan. In this way, yet again, driving in a controlled environment such as a track is better for the clutch.

It’s important to remember that if parts are randomly put together into a go kart, without taking into account the different variables and mechanisms, the clutch—and the go kart itself—will not last. Finally, keep in mind that our premium clutches cannot be used in just any go kart; we make quality clutches for quality karts, and when used correctly, the two go hand in hand for many years of fun.

Preventative Maintenance and Centrifugal Clutches: Avoiding Catastrophe

Consider this scenario: your business is booming, demand is higher than it’s been in years, and everything is on the right track—and then an emergency happens. You’ve been working so hard to get business where it now is, that you’ve forgotten to invest in a backup. You need to get back up and running right away, but your centrifugal clutch has died. Now what?

Unfortunately, it will take time to get a replacement clutch; each one is unique, and the 256px-Maintenance-time.svgright one for you is not going to be available immediately. You are then sitting there stagnant, and depending on a variety of factors, your wait time could be up to eight weeks.

Why Preventative Maintenance Matters

In any environment, from pumping to water treatment and mining, this scenario can happen, and planning ahead could have prevented it. Preventative maintenance assures both immediate and long-term savings, greater efficiency, significant time savings, and overall plant safety. It makes all the difference.

Preventative Maintenance and Centrifugal Clutches

In order to prevent the aforementioned scenario, there are steps you can take. First, make an overall assessment of your business now that it’s picking up, and decide how essential that clutch is to your functioning. If it’s critical to your business, now is the time to order a backup clutch.

Also, determine if your current clutch might be on its way out. Check the number of hours it’s been in use; while there’s no set number that’s too much, and it differs by clutch and by application, you can assess the wear on the clutch and the environment in which it’s been used. For example, something that’s been on standby may last ten years, while something in use every day will have a lot more wear and could need to be replaced much sooner.

Always err on the side of caution, and when in doubt, contact us and tell us about your clutch and your needs. We can help you determine whether or not it needs to be refurbished or replaced.

Why a Backup Makes All the Difference

No matter the state of your clutch or your particular application, failure can occur. In that event, no backup means no work. It means loss of time and money. Simply having a backup clutch provides the assurance and guarantee that in the event of an emergency, you’re okay.

Need advice or assistance, or want help choosing the right centrifugal clutch for your needs? Feel free to contact us anytime.


Mechanical Clutches That Fulfill Many Requirements

A clutch may be most commonly associated with automobiles, but mechanical clutches are needed any time that the transmission of power or motion must be controlled.  There are many varieties of mechanical clutches, with each type designed to fulfill specific requirements.  One of the most commonly used types is the centrifugal clutch.

These clutch systems employ a centrifugal force to automatically engage when the engine rpm rises above a threshold and to disengage when it falls low enough.  The centrifugal clutch has a number of advantages.  No control mechanism is necessary to run it, and it is highly cost effective.  It also prevents the internal combustion engine from stalling when the output shaft is slowed or stopped abruptly, by using the engine in this fashion less braking force is required.

Centrifugal clutches are well known in smaller vehicles such as mopeds, but they are also used in a wide variety of industrial applications.  Centrifugal clutches can be found in a wide range of military applications as well as for chillers, municipal waterworks plants, and many more.  These clutches need to maintain constant alignment between the driven and drive side shafts in order to function properly.  Centrifugal clutches can be engineered to fit into applications with limited space, such as mining.  Mining is a highly demanding environment, and it’s important to use resilient and tough centrifugal clutches in this industry.  Mixers are important in a variety of fields, including the chemistry industry.  Centrifugal clutches play a vital role in helping chemical mixers run at the highest level of efficiency, and with optimal design, can prevent jams.  Finally, centrifugal clutches can be built to operate under harsh environmental conditions, including extreme cold.

Mechanical clutches are available in many different forms.  The centrifugal design has utility and versatility that allows it to be used in many diverse products, including augers, pumps, saws, kilns, compressors, power trowels, and many others.


The Rising Demand—And Success—in the Mining Equipment Industry

If you follow the latest news and trends in American manufacturing, then you likely know that the industry is in the midst of a major recovery. Production and overall competitiveness in manufacturing is at levels not seen in many years, which is good news for business owners, manufacturing workers, and the country in general.

What this also means is that the economy is improving, and as this continues, along with more production, the demand for industrial machinery is expected to increase significantly. In fact, according to a recent report from IHS Technology, demand for manufacturing machines is expected to grow over 6%—more than twice the increase seen in 2013—and revenues are expected to reach $1.6 trillion this year.*

Furthermore, this rising demand for machinery and technology will result in a demand for Bergbau-Hammelmannmining tools and equipment. In fact, within the mining industry, experts predict that the global demand for mining machinery will grow 8.6% between now and 2017, reaching $135 billion.**

Steel and aluminum production, along with developments of other mining opportunities and growth in agriculture and construction, will push this demand throughout the world, with “voracious demand for mined materials”** in many developing countries serving as an incredible boost to the mining and mining equipment industries.

What does this mean for us and our customers? As premier manufacturers of the highest quality centrifugal clutches for clients in the mining industry, we see this as great news. Industrial clutches and centrifugal clutches are crucial to the mining industry, as well as to agriculture, construction, and many of the other industries in which machinery demand is expected to grow, and this means our clients will continue to see a demand for their products, and more need for ours.

All of our clutches ensure ease of maintenance, start loads efficiently (making them energy efficient), and can be customized for specific applications. This means that as your needs increase, you can be sure you will get the centrifugal clutches you need to meet and exceed your demands and expectations.

As we continue to see a rise in mining and industrial equipment requirements, we will look forward to making sure we do our part to keep this growth and success going strong.



The Ease of Maintenance of Our Centrifugal Clutch

In a previous blog post, we discussed the advantages of the centrifugal clutch. These included starting loads efficiently while saving energy, smooth acceleration, the elimination of expensive starting equipment, and more.

Another specific advantage of the centrifugal clutch is its ease of maintenance. Because our clutches_for_public_works.gifclutch is made of separate pieces, these pieces can be disassembled and easily taken apart without having to use a motor or a gear box. This means that when maintenance is needed, the clutch comes apart easily and allows for simple access.

BLM’s mechanism offers a distinct competitive advantage. In the competitors’ clutches, the majority are made as one solid unit, making it extremely difficult to do anything without taking the clutch apart entirely—it’s not a quick, easy fix.

However, our mechanism is in a drive body attached to a flange that can easily be dropped out, allowing the user to change the clutch out in a very short period of time. As anyone knows, saving time and money when it comes to maintenance are two of the biggest factors in remaining competitive, efficient, and successful.

Our custom centrifugal clutches are backed by over 80 years of experience. In this time, we’ve perfected the design of the clutch, knowing how to make them high quality, long lasting, and extremely easy to use and maintain.

Whatever your requirements, application, or industry, you can be sure the custom clutch will not only meet all of your exact requirements, but will be backed by these decades of research, advancement, and experience.

Applications for Industrial Friction Clutches

You might be surprised to find how many applications there are for centrifugal clutches. A clutch is simply a mechanical device that permits the transmission of power from one component of a machine to another. Most people are familiar with the clutches used in personal vehicles such as cars and motorcycles, but in reality, clutches are also widely used in the mining, chemical and military industry, among others.

clutch-for-the-mining-IndustryThe mining industry relies on heavy-duty machines with reliable and durable components. Coal crushers are one example. Put simply, a coal crusher is a machine used for crushing rock and other bulk materials for further processing.  They reduce hard materials such as ore, coal and stone into smaller particles that are more convenient to use. These machines work by feeding the material between two large rollers that turn together while applying great force. They rely on a clutch, which connects the two rolling components so that they can spin together at the same speed.

In the chemical industry, clutches are employed in mixers. Mixers come in a number of different shapes and sizes, but essentially work according to the same principle. They use a motor to drive the shaft and blade rapidly, in a circular motion. In this case, the clutch serves to transmit motion from the motor to the mixer shaft, which then spins the blades. A special consideration when manufacturing clutches for the chemical industry is their ability to withstand heavy loads and demanding tasks.

Clutches are also widely employed in the military industry.  In military aircrafts, for example, clutches are found in autopilot systems, fuel control and air cabin control systems, among many others. These clutches must be able to endure harsh environmental conditions without sacrificing quality of performance. Some of these conditions include humidity, heat and vibrations. This type of application often calls for high performance friction materials.

Over the past 80 years, at BLM Automatic Clutch, we’ve manufactured a countless number of friction clutches for several types of applications. We work with customers in all manufacturing industries, and our clutches come in all types of combinations: coupling, flywheel, universal shaft, pulley, and soft start combinations. Our experienced engineering, design and manufacturing team can provide the correct clutch configuration to meet all types of requirements.


Industrial Clutches Help Pump up Manufacturing Activity – and the Number of Jobs in Manufacturing Industries

Whether you’re looking at a water treatment plant, an aluminum processing facility or an aggregate crushing plant, we can guarantee there is an industrial clutch – most likely several of them – working behind the scenes in the pumps, crushers and processing equipment. Industrial clutches help pump up activity and keep things moving forward for manufacturers, and industrial clutches are used in every type of manufacturing industry, with applications in a wide range of processes.

clutches_for_public_worksAs manufacturing activity picks up its pace in North America, industrial clutches will be more heavily relied upon in the coming months and years. A recent report from says, “Expectations are rising for a stronger U.S. economy in 2014 after reports showed solid growth in manufacturing and construction spending at the end of last year.” Another article from reports, “The [manufacturing] rebound is very real, and it will likely gain even more momentum as companies worldwide come to realize the cost advantage U.S. manufacturing has gained from cheap domestic energy, most notably natural gas.”

Manufacturing job growth is also predicted in the article: “…by 2020, we could see up to 1.5 million manufacturing jobs and as many as 3.5 million additional jobs created because of the new factories that are being built.” This is all good news for manufacturers and for workers seeking manufacturing jobs.

Industrial clutches can’t take all the credit for the anticipated manufacturing boom, but they do play an important role in keeping manufacturing activities under control and moving along! At BLM Automatic Clutch Limited, we’ve manufactured industrial clutches for every type of application, and we’ve been doing this for over 80 years now. We produce two main designs of centrifugal clutches: Our Four Block series clutches (1/4-50 HP) for mortar mixers and conveyors, chippers, tampers, concrete pumps, refrigeration, etc.; and our Six Block Series (up to 3,000 HP) for large industrial and varied commercial applications, used in crushers, fans, deep well pumps and more. We’re also known for our high-quality custom clutches. If you need industrial clutches or have any questions about clutches, in general, give us a call at 800-268-4295, or tweet us @BLMAutomatic.

The How and Why of the Centrifugal Clutch

As leaders in the design and manufacture of custom centrifugal clutches, we’re often in contact with people who want to know how they work, and what their advantages are. Simply put, their advantages are many—but here we aim to explain why and how.

engineThe main purpose of the centrifugal clutch is to start loads efficiently and save energy. In essence, this type of clutch connects the prime mover (the motor, engine, turbine, etc.) to the load to be accelerated in a way that, in start-up mode, the prime mover starts without any load imposed on it. As the motor speed increases, it develops near-maximum torque before the clutch is radically activated to connect the load and accelerate it smoothly to rated speed—with no slippage and 100% efficiency.

When using the right centrifugal clutch, shock loading of the power train is eliminated, making for smooth acceleration and providing overload protection to both the motor and the machinery. Consider this: The demand of the average motor at start-up is significantly greater than when running at rated speed and load. Without a clutch, this high inrush current can last several seconds at least, but with a centrifugal clutch, this is only a fraction of a second, resulting in maximum torque with minimum current draw. The clutch does the slipping and dissipates the heat, and the added advantage is eliminating expensive starting apparatus.

So what should you consider when selecting a centrifugal clutch?

First you must take into account the effect of the load or mass to be accelerated; i.e., a high-inertia load will require a longer acceleration period, so the clutch must have sufficient mass to dissipate heat generated. When there is a frequent starting cycle, heat can be problematic and overheating can occur, but allowing the clutch to cool off can return it to its rated efficiency.

The centrifugal clutch should be selected so that the load is applied where maximum torque is developed by the motor; the clutch can be adjusted for capacity by varying weight of the operating mechanism in the clutch, which can increase the capacity of the clutch and achieve a wide range.

While no one particular clutch is suitable for all conditions, working with the right experts can help guide you to the right size/capacity for your application. In the end, the centrifugal clutch will save energy and start loads efficiently, eliminate the need for starting equipment, allow use of a smaller motor, and provide smooth acceleration.


Did you know that clutches may play a large role in the 2014 Olympics Games in Sochi, Russia?

skiingThis upcoming February, The XXII Winter Olympics will be taking place in Sochi, Russia – making it the first time that the Russian Federation will be hosting the games, as the Soviet Union hosted the previous in Moscow back in 1980. Separated into two clusters – the events will be divided into ice and mountain events, making travel time about 30 minutes between the coastal and mountain cluster. This makes the 2014 Winter Olympics the most compact in the history of the games.

During the winter Olympics, skiing is one of the largest events to take place. Some of the skiing event competitions include alpine, slalom, giant slalom, freestyle, cross-country, and Nordic combined skiing (ski jumping and cross country skiing combined.) When it comes to skiing, one thing people may not realize is that clutches can play a large role in maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of ski lifts. Used as a backup if a power failure in the ski lift occurs, the clutch would start up after the malfunction and engage and start the drive in the lift. Without clutches, athletes would be stranded if a problem were to occur.

Because of the uncertainty of the weather that can occur at the Winter Olympics, Sochi began storing snow back in 2012, just in case there isn’t enough snow to fill the landscape come February. Those who organized the effort stored 16 million cubic feet of snow in anticipation of the games and the ski village at Sochi, which was all completed with the use of snow blowers that can be powered by clutches and water from lakes nearby.

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