MRO Magazine

Belt system designed for maximum flexibility in transfer applications

Based in Remshalden, close to Stuttgart, German machine builder Schnaithmann Maschinenbau GmbH manufactures transfer and assembly systems for automation, assembly, material flow and handling tasks. The family-owned company was founded in 1985.

Based in Remshalden, close to Stuttgart, German machine builder Schnaithmann Maschinenbau GmbH manufactures transfer and assembly systems for automation, assembly, material flow and handling tasks. The family-owned company was founded in 1985.

Schnaithmann’s formula for success is based on the development of two modular systems: Modular Transfer Systems (MTS) for an enormous range of applications, offering an extensive selection of belt systems, and Flexible Profile Systems (FPS), which contain components for feeding and handling equipment as part of a complete modular system. By combining these two systems and integrating special parts that are available commercially, such as linear drive and gripper equipment, robotics or processing components, it is possible to create customized solutions for customers.

The modular transfer systems are implemented, for example, in assembly systems for transmissions; in conveying technology to connect machine tools in sequence; in transportation lines for domestic appliances, hardware or industrial items; in production cells with integrated robots and processing centres, and in many more manufacturing applications where the integration of ancillary assembly equipment is required.

The systems are capable of handling products weighing up to 150 kg per unit.


The accumulation chains and plate chains for product flow, handling and assembly equipment produced by Schnaithmann are supplied by Iwis Antriebssysteme GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of high-performance roller chains. In the modular assembly and transfer systems, which are used for example in the automotive industry and in machine-building applications, these chains perform a variety of demanding transport tasks.

The BS 11 modular transfer system described here is mainly used in automotive  manufacturing for vehicle assembly and machine building, for example for manufacturing and assembling components for transmissions, engines or chassis, but it is also suitable for use in the consumer goods field, for transporting and assembling coffee machines, high-pressure cleaners or power tools and the like.

The transfer system is a belt system that is designed for maximum flexibility, consisting of standard MTS components to which other components can be added as required by the customer, including stoppers, positioning devices, turning stations, and so on.

The BS 11 transfer system is suitable for belt segment loads up to 1500 N/m. The rugged system is notable for its high level of availability and production reliability. It is compatible with systems made by other manufacturers, but it also features a number of ingenious details all its own: For example, when several conveyer segments are connected to form longer conveyor systems, the maintenance segments that were previously essential with conventional systems can be omitted entirely, because when a return or drive unit has to be replaced, the modules concerned can simply be removed to one side with very little space requirement.

In order to transport the work piece carriers in this transfer system, a 1/2-in. accumulation chain from Iwis is used. The hardened steel accumulation rollers on the chains ensure a long service life and sintered rollers reduce friction, keeping the surface clean and dry.

Protection from dirt or chippings

Optional chain and product guards are available to cover the chains completely from above, so the system can also be implemented in applications where there is a presence of dirt or chippings. The chains are lubricated with an appropriate initial lubricant to ensure continual smooth operation and fulfil energy efficiency requirements by reducing friction in all areas.

The systems can be configured in lengths up to 30% longer than normal and still provide the same driving power. As a result, and unlike conventional accumulation chains, the motor output can be reduced for similar conveyor applications.

Another modular transfer system in which chains from Iwis are used is the Schnaithmann BS 86 pallet conveyor. These systems are most often used in the machining area, to transport components and billets to and from machine tools, and even into the machining area of the spindle. They are suitable for loads up to 800 N/m and a heavy-duty version can also be supplied upon request.

This system too is a flexible conveyor system, also of modular construction and consisting of standard MTS components to which components such as stoppers or lift indexing elements can be added if required. Other add-on components can also be attached to the system, or relocated simply by loosening the fastening bolts and moving the components. With conventional systems, where the frames are not constructed from aluminium extrusions, this operation requires considerable effort.

Another advantage is that the special drip brackets with drip lip used in conjunction with the V2A drip trays in the area of the belt connectors ensure that all fluids such as oil and emulsion as well as dirt and chippings can be collected and taken away.

Plate chain resists swarf and dirt

The transport medium for the BS 86 belt system is a type LR 4810 hardened plate chain produced by Iwis. These plate chains are noted for their durability and very good resistance to swarf and dirt. The plate surface layer undergoes an additional heat treatment step to give exceptional hardness, thus increasing strength and abrasion resistance.

The flatness of the plates ensures smooth, quiet running and provides a flat bearing surface for components and work piece carriers. The surface is completely closed, thereby excluding any risk of injury. An initial lubrication appropriate for the application is applied to these chains too. A special geometric design enables tight angular radii, so multi-lane applications will have very narrow dividers, minimising dead areas.

“We have enjoyed a long, successful cooperation with Schnaithmann in highly diverse applications”, says Gerhard Hartinger, key account manager for Iwis in Munich. “The chains described are commercially available in other models and are even purchased from iwis by other conveyor belt manufacturers.”

Besides accumulation chains and plate chains, Iwis also offers a comprehensive product range for all applications in power transmission and conveyor technology. The complete product program comprises precision and high-performance roller chains, conveyor chains, maintenance-free and corrosion-resistant chains, accumulation chains, special-purpose conveyor chains, flyer chains, flat-top chains and modular belts for industrial applications, chains and accessories for agricultural machinery, and timing drive systems for the automotive industry.

This article was written by Iwis antriebssysteme GmbH & Co KG, Munich, Germany. For more information, visit In Canada, contact Brian Walters, Canadian market manager, Iwis Drive Systems LLC, Surrey BC, by e-mail at