Are Low Cost OEM Motor Brakes Really Low Cost?

Featured Product from Force Control Industries, Inc.

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When talking about production lines, maintenance cost, and downtime can easily exceed the initial cost difference of a brake.

In today’s world there is a strong push to purchase capital equipment at the lowest cost possible. This includes what many OEM’s provide for their motor brakes. To be competitive they must keep cost as low as possible.

In many cases the equipment designer doesn’t select the brake, but selects a drive package, or a brake motor from a motor manufacturer. Due to their volume they are able to purchase a low cost, dry friction brake often manufactured outside of the United States. Because brakes are commonly considered a wear item the cost of adjustment due to wear and consistent maintenance and replacement is not considered an issue. However this can be a high cost to the end user.

The capital equipment buyer is often compensated by how much they can save on capital purchases, so they pressure the OEM for the lowest price. The OEM responds by purchasing the lowest cost components that will provide what is considered reasonable life. Thereby the low cost, high maintenance, throwaway brakes.

How is the brake manufacturer able to provide brakes to a motor manufacturer at such low prices?  They make it up on parts sales. Parts in the brake industry are a high profit item. Some brake manufacturers charge the end user as much or more for 1 or 2 replacement parts than the motor manufacturer pays for the complete brake.

Not only that, but the end user also has to pay for downtime, production quality, maintenance staff, inventory and purchasing cost. In some cases, such as overhead cranes, safety and reliability can also be a serious issue.

Force Control Industries has been designing and supplying brakes featuring Oil Shear Technology for over 50 years. They are unique in the motor brake world and they offer many advantages.

  1. The operating life is very long, often 5-10 times that of dry friction motor brakes. Many Force Control brakes in the field last 10 years or more with no maintenance (oil changes are recommended for best performance), and no adjustment – ever.
  2. They are designed for dynamic stops. This means you can use the brake for stopping without the high cost of maintenance and adjustment.  Dry friction brakes are generally designed for holding only.
  3. Force Control brakes are direct acting eliminating the small linkages that wear, corrode, become jammed with contaminants, and ultimately lead to failure.
  4. Torque is transmitted through shearing of a film of transmission fluid.shear This means that the discs and plates are not in direct contact during the dynamic stopping phase. The work is done through the fluid. This eliminates most of the wear of the friction discs. As the system stops it becomes a holding brake as it breaks through the fluid film.
  5. Since the majority of the work is done through the fluid, the heat of engagement is in the fluid which circulates from the inner hub out through the disc to the housing where it is cooled and returned to the hub. In a dry friction brake the heat is absorbed in the friction material which causes disc deterioration and wear. In a totally enclosed housing this heat buildup is magnified.
  6. The Force Control totally enclosed housing prevents contamination from outside dust, dirt, scale, moisture, etc. for entering the brake causing further damage. It also prevents the brakes from putting friction material dust out of the brake.
  7. Oil Shear brakes are extremely quiet. This means they can be used in areas where employees are working in close proximity to the brakes.
  8. Many options are available for certain types of applications such as washdown, marine duty, low temperature (-40 degrees), high temperature (200 F degrees), hazardous duty, and many more.

Force Control Oil Shear brakes are not inexpensive, but can be very cost effective in many severe duty or demanding applications such as mining, steel, lumber, food processing and packaging, etc. They are especially effective on overhead cranes where maintenance cost is high and reliability is critical.

A total package for maximum maintenance free installations would be a spring set, electric release, Force Control oil shear brake mounted to a heavy duty, cast iron frame, high efficiency motor (assembled brake motor).

Be sure to download the True Cost Comparison spreadsheet to help determine what is being spent on maintaining and replacing the current OEM motor brakes. It can also be used for other types of brakes and clutch brakes. Contact Force Control to help generate the numbers needed to predict the cost if using Oil Shear products.