A customer once complained that we put “cheap Chinese chains” in our conveyors. It’s true that we source chains from China, but the reality is that most conveyor and roller chains on the global market are made in China’s Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shandong provinces. If you’ve ever bought a chain through a distributor (in North America, at least), chances are it came from China. Even if you’ve bought a chain from an American or European brand, where the company manufactured it isn’t a given.
Are Chinese Conveyor Chains Junk?
But just because a chain is made in China or another developing country doesn’t automatically mean it’s junk. The reality for Chinese companies is the same as for other manufacturers in our global market: if their products don’t perform well, customers won’t buy them.
This isn’t to say that shoddy chains don’t come from China. They certainly do. We know firsthand, having received samples (more than once) that didn’t pass metallurgical tests. But our experience has been positive when we’ve purchased from trusted suppliers. We’ve never found defects in the chains we’ve ordered, and those we’ve put into our machines have performed to our expectations.
Ensuring Conveyor Chain Quality
Understand that where chains are manufactured is less critical than who controls their production. For example, the company we order from has its own metallurgists and quality assurance personnel at the factory who enforce the company’s standards. So by ordering directly from this manufacturer, we can control the quality of our chains, albeit vicariously.
Why Buy Conveyor Chains from China?
Still, why buy from China? We haven’t found anyone outside China who manufactures the 81X chain we use in our S-Series conveyors. Also, sourcing chains from China allows us to manage the cost (and thereby price) of our drag conveyors while maintaining our standards. So don’t dismiss our conveyor chains as being “cheap.”
Beware of Discount Chains
But beware of the opposite trap: opting for a lower-cost chain than we supply. We could buy chains that cost less than what our current supplier charges. However, we couldn’t ensure their quality if we did. You, too, are at risk if you buy discount chains, even if the distributor you purchase from swears the chain wasn’t made in China. We in North America and Europe cannot make chains at a cost as low as China can, so when you find a deal on an “American” or European” chain, chances are it’s too good to be true (some distributors do lie about their products’ origins).
It’s not worth saving pennies on a poorly made chain if it results in unplanned downtime. We can’t back you (our customer) up if you install it. We’ll stand behind the chains we supply, but if you buy from someone else and the chains break, there’s little we can do but work with your purchasing department to replace broken components.
Why Do Conveyor Chains Break?
Still, most breakage events occur from stress on the conveyor system, not as a fault in the chain. So if you do experience premature chain breakage, refer to this article about diagnosing chain failures.
Are you looking for conveyor chains? Unfortunately, we can’t help unless you own a SMART Conveyor™. Don’t own a SMART Conveyor™? With this we can assist. If you need quality drag chain conveyors that maximize chain life and protect them from internal stress, review our line of SMART Conveyors™ now!
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