Shaft Locking Assemblies for Pulleys: Functions and Purposes

October 9, 2018

Different shaft locking solutions, each one designed to target alternative pulley shaft configurations, have been on the go for decades. There are keyed shaft couplers, which use a flattened section on cylindrical drive rods. These mechanisms have evolved somewhat. They now look like recessed slots, with accompanying “keys” locking their pulleys and drive components in place. Surpassing this solution, though, we arrive at keyless shaft locking devices.

Alternate Locking Solutions 

Before continuing, why bother with different shaft locking assemblies? Well, the keyed approach works well, but it’s not without its faults. Imagine a conveyor system that moves faster than average, or think of a production line that’s conveying large loads. Stresses accumulate at the bearings and pulley locking mechanisms. The slender key section absorbs all of that stress. Now, it’s not a good idea to place so much mechanical stress on one tiny part, especially if it gives up the ghost at the worst possible moment. And that’s why keys and key slots are being replaced by other drive locking approaches, including bushings and collars, parts that use rings and fasteners to distribute extreme rotational forces.

The Pros and Cons of Keyless Locking 

As mentioned above keyless pulley locking assemblies have a major advantage, in that they provide an essential force distributing feature. However, without the key and slot arrangement, there are other drawbacks to consider. Primarily, bushings and collars suffer from slippage when they’re not properly matched to a suitable application. Because of that shortcoming, expect to find several different versions of these coupling mechanisms. Among them, taper-lock systems have become something of an industry standard. But then there are quick-replace hub bushes, high-torque keyless solutions, and a score of other standardized or proprietary methods of coupling pulley shafts.

The Functions of Shaft Locking Assemblies 

Clearly, the device’s first duty is to lock a pulley drive shaft to its matching power transmission connector. Those transmission lines, though, they do take different forms. They’re driven by chains, so groups of sprockets are in the mix. Maybe the equipment uses plastic-coated castors or a near solid linkage of heat-treated gears, which rely on a secure powertrain-to-pulley coupling? Whatever the locking method, the device must endure the whims of the conveyor deck as it vibrates or handles impacts. Loaded with non-slewing features, pulley shaft locks simply cannot be allowed to fail. 

Tough and durable, conveyor system pulleys endure, even when they’re pressed incredibly hard. Performing as a critically important power transmitting linkage, the shaft locking devices mounted between the cylindrical drums and the power transmitting assemblies absorb transient loads, distribute extreme rotational forces, and perform as designed, no matter the conditions.

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