Question: I’m looking to make my auto-manufacturing facility more energy-efficient and want to know more about belts. We currently have v-belts and I want to know whether or not it’s worth it to explore other options.

Answer: We’ve got everything you need to know about v-belts and the energy-efficient alternative below. Take a look!

Energy efficiency in the auto-industry

The auto manufacturing and assembly industry is one of the biggest global consumers of energy worldwide. In 2008 alone, the U.S. auto industry spent $3.6 billion on energy; that’s more than the external debt of Canada, according to the World Bank.

According to Sustainable Energy for All, a global report published jointly between UN Global Compact and Accenture, the automobile is also the principle supplier of products which account for approximately a quarter of the global energy use. In order to remain competitive, the article suggests that companies need to find ways to reduce costs for materials, manufacturing and operations across the supply chain.

What you need to know about v-belts

In an industry where energy costs are in the billions, it is vital to invest in energy-saving alternatives. When it comes to vehicle assembly facilities, belts (loops of flexible material used to link two or more rotating shafts) make up a significant portion of the total motor drive and are used by approximately one third of the electric motors in the industrial and commercial sectors. While some energy loss is inevitable during transmission, some belts are indeed more, or less, energy-efficient than others on the market.

The most popular belt used within the industry is currently the v-belt. The disadvantage of the v-belt is that they have a tendency to stretch, slip, bend and compress which leads to a loss of energy and needlessly increases your company’s energy costs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, v-belts can have an efficiency level of 95%-98% at installation but quickly drop to a nominal efficiency of around 93% over time as slippage occurs.

Why your plant should make the switch from v-belts to cog belts

In contrast, cog belts (often referred to as synchronous or timing belt) have an efficiency level that is 1%-5% greater than v-belts and are known to reduce motor loads by 2%-10%. Cog belts are able to operate at a consistent efficiency level of 98% over a wide load range because of slots running perpendicular to the belt’s length which build resistance and prevent slipping and bending. They also run cooler, last longer and require less maintenance. The one downside to cog belts is that they are noisier to operate than v-belts, transfer more vibration due to their stiffness and are less suited for use on shock-loaded applications. Energy Star estimates that the payback period for replacing standard belts with more efficient ones is around 6 months to 3 years.

Not ready to make the switch? Make the most of your v-belt

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the most important thing to take into consideration when assessing a v-belt is tension. Too loose or too tight and your belt will wear out much faster than if it is properly maintained. The DoE suggests that the ideal tension of a v-belt is the lowest tension at which the belt will not slip at peak-load conditions. It is also suggested that, following the break-in period, the belt tension should be tested every 3-6 months.

Questions or comments about the efficiency of v-belts or cog belts? Leave them below! Are you a small-industrial business looking to cut down on energy costs? Check out these great rebates and incentives available to your business!

image credit: ER