The Challenge: a crushable roller sleeve that customers in the field can slide on themselves

An engineer from a material handling company called. The company manufactures an automation system comprised of belts and small diameter rollers to move sheet metal from one place to another.

The standard-issue rollers were covered in rubber and didn’t hold up well due to the constant stress of the belt running over them. They were also noisy!

The engineer wanted to know if UI could make replacement roller covers that were “crushable” – meaning, could we add veins to them, similar to a no-crush wheel.

But wait – could we also make it so customers in the field could slide these new covers on their conveyor rollers?

Hmmmm . . . interesting question. Of course, we said, “We’ll give it a try.”

How our problem-solving process works

We knew we needed a flexible urethane cover that would be easy for people to slide over the metal roller. The cover also had to withstand stress from the belt – and reduce noise.

The easy part was creating a few prototypes of the new crushable roller sleeve.

What was much more difficult was getting the sleeve onto the roller and ensuring it stayed in place while running at high-speed. (Normally, we cast around the metal hub.)

Using WD-40 as a lubricant made the sleeve easy to slide on, but it also meant the roller was now spinning inside the cover.

Our next test: a liquid adhesive applied in the field to create a mechanical bond between the urethane and the roller.

As we write this, the customer is running tests. We’ll let you know the outcome.

We say “yes” when others say “no”

What we enjoy about solving challenges like this is that we solicit ideas from everyone in the plant – from the new hire caster to our experienced craftsmen. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the least expected places.

If you have an application challenge that’s been puzzling you, contact us. We’re happy to talk it through to see if we can solve it.