Grape expectations: A niche belt solution for winemakers


Winemakers can agree that grape selection is an important part of producing quality wine and requires a delicate sorting process.

After the harvests are hauled in from the vineyards, the stalks and stems are separated from the grapes on a conveyor system and transferred onto an elevator, so that the wine ingredients go one way and the unwanted bits are carried away as organic waste, explains CBC’s Michael Williams.

Central to the CBC Para Hills location in Adelaide, Michael has been serving the agriculture segment for more than 20 years, particularly customers from the Clare Valley wine region. Recently, he was called out to a local winery that was experiencing problems with a failing belt drive on their grape elevator.

“Grape stalk is an organic waste product that is produced in great amounts during the industrialisation processes of winemaking,” says Michael. “The elevator system is designed to separate the stalks from the grapes operates under very damp conditions because this is where the grape juices and liquids begin extraction.”

The customer called Michael Williams to report that the timing belt they were currently using was only lasting two thirds of a harvest season, or about six weeks, before failing.

“Because the elevator is being operated in a high moisture area, the belt’s cover was peeling off, the teeth were crumbling away, and delamination was occurring,” says CBC Power Transmission Engineer, Tony Voiklis. “The belt that was being used could not withstand the wet conditions and was therefore not suitable for the application.”

Tony and Michael made a joint call to the site to assess the application and proposed a new belt drive system to better suit the customer’s needs.

“After careful examination of the elevator and the environmental conditions, we developed a proposal for a redesign,” says Tony. “We offered the Gates® Poly Chain® GT™ Carbon™ Polyurethane Synchronous belt as a solution which is a versatile timing belt with carbon fibre cords that perform well under damp conditions and are inert to most acids, chemicals and water.”

“The belt is essentially a maintenance free and width-for-width substitute for rolling chain, except instead of sprockets and links, it is a carbon cord reinforced, polyurethane toothed tensile belt that performs the same function with no stretch, no lubrication, and no re-tensioning required throughout the lifespan of the belt,” explains Tony. “It is also completely water resistant, eliminating the risk of corrosion or peeling.”

Furthermore, Tony notes that the Gates® Poly Chain® GT™ Carbon™ belt has a 400% greater capacity than our PowerGrip™ HTD timing belts — giving it the ability to accommodate much more weight on the application and therefore moving the product more efficiently.

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