Catastrophic failure of chain links is a hefty expense—an average of $65,000 per break and hours of downtime. These failures present a significant safety hazard for workers, as most automotive assembly plants depend on their tow chain systems to move material and parts throughout the facility between processes.

The current process is to have chain links manually checked, which utilizes multiple maintenance resources for hundreds of hours at a time, but this is not continuous and subject to human error. The three biggest challenges to chain monitoring are manual inspections, costly downtimes, and worker safety hazards.

Manual Inspection

Chains typically break due to general wear and tear, material defects, improper tensioning, lubrication, or external damage. Tow chain link inspections require a lot of dirty work when done manually, and there is no way to verify that manual inspection was completed.

Costly Downtime

Finding a chain breakage takes several hours, and current bi-annual inspection schedules take approximately 1,000 to 2,000 worker hours a year to inspect approximately 100 chain lines. Chain breaks cost monetary losses in excess of millions in terms of the productivity and resource engagement with each event.

Worker Safety Hazard

Catastrophic chain breakage is an extreme safety hazard for workers. Some chain lines are at a higher risk of breaking than others, and a fractured chain link can exist on a chain tow line for weeks or months before catastrophic failure occurs. With all these issues coming into play, there is a need for a solution that minimizes the costly downtime and has continuous 24/7 monitoring without human error.

Our Solution: ChainWatch

SICK’s ChainWatch is a local engineered quality control system that continuously monitors the integrity of individual chain links in tow chain systems with real-time results. Chainwatch can be combined with field analytics and provides data to schedule predictive maintenance, preventing downtime and dangerous chain failures. ChainWatch tracks the station ID, the link number and its number of revolutions through the inspection system and the pass or fail analysis, where the data can be accessed via a web browser interface or on a mobile smart device.

ChainWatch performs statistical analysis and provides an easily viewed user interface for the operator to show health status of chain systems. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, ChainWatch monitors the status of each link continuously. Cracks are detected before link breaks, chain break tendencies are interpreted, and archived data can be used to determine failure duration and mode.

Interested in learning more about ChainWatch? Click here, or contact a SICK representative today!