Whether it’s an application with a large inertia load that needs a controlled engagement or fast, high cyclical starts, it’s critical to use the right type of clutch when designing your industrial equipment.

WPT Power is well-known for our industrial clutch products and has quickly become a global leader in the design and manufacturing of these heavy-duty power transmission solutions. We offer pneumatic clutches and hydraulic clutches that are preferred by OEMs. These clutches are air or hydraulically actuated to generate much greater levels of force than other types of clutches, which enables them to bring a wide variety of benefits to the industrial manufacturing process.

From heavy shock loads of the mining markets to high cycle applications in steel & metal forming, WPT has an industrial clutch suitable for rugged, demanding applications. Even in the most severe conditions, we engineer our industrial clutches to allow for controlled, precise response times.

For information about our standard, modified or custom engineered products, contact us today or view our distributors to find the WPT Power Clutch supplier nearest you.

Industrial Clutches

Industrial clutches operate by bringing together two separate rotating bodies and coupling them to create a single body of rotation. These separate bodies may include gears, sprockets, shafts, and/or motors or movers, and they can be arranged in any number of combinations or configurations. 

How Clutches Work

Clutches are built to transfer torque from the primary moving shaft to the shaft that it drives. Varying the amount of friction between these two rotational bodies generates the primary force used to transfer torque.

This process requires either air or liquid to provide the force needed to apply pressure to the friction and drive plates. Forcing the plates together transfers torque from the driving component to the secondary component, and removing the applied pressure stops torque transfer to the secondary component.

Common Industrial Clutch Applications

A wide range of industries rely on the use of industrial clutches to conduct essential processes. Industrial clutches & brakes are an effective means to control and transfer torque in rotating drive systems found in production equipment. This includes high cyclic duty presses and shears in metal forming, yarders for lifting and transporting in forestry and stop-and-go control needed on drilling and service rigs in the oil & gas industry. Other characteristics like thermal dissipation, size, response time and torque determine the best product for the application.

Industries and applications that regularly use hydraulic and pneumatic clutches include:

  • Steel/metal forming
  • Marine
  • Forestry
  • Grinding Mills
  • Energy
  • Paper Mills
  • Mining

Common Industrial Clutch Problems

Proper clutch design is a critical element in the production of industrial clutches. Design precision helps overcome some of the most common problems experienced by clutches, but regular maintenance is necessary in the kinds of environments in which these clutches are deployed.

Issues that industrial clutches typically run into include: 

  • Improper installation and alignment
  • Performance limitations related to irregular maintenance
  • Leaks, clogs, and damaged seals in pressurized lines

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your industrial clutch equipment will help you get around these issues. Additionally, ensuring that you’re using the best kind of clutch for your application will further reduce maintenance risks.

Methods of Clutch Actuation

A clutch’s method of actuation defines the type of clutch it is. Industrial clutches are usually actuated through air pressure (pneumatic) or liquid pressure (hydraulic). Each type of clutch functions the same and can be used in similar applications. 

Pneumatic Clutches

In a pneumatic clutch, compressed air or gas provide the necessary pressure to inflate air tubes compressing friction and drive plates together. Pneumatic clutches perform well in temperature-sensitive environments, as the materials used to power these clutches are less affected by temperature fluctuations than those used in hydraulic clutches.

Pneumatic clutches don’t generate heat during extended periods of engagement. Pneumatic clutches are also very safe to operate, and the pressurized air they use tends to be more affordable than liquids used in hydraulic systems.

Pneumatic clutches see wide use in the following processes:

  • Drilling and workover rigs
  • Offshore winches
  • Yarders
  • Tension control applications

Hydraulic Clutches

Hydraulic clutches use noncompressible liquids to apply pressure to pistons and thereby force friction and drive plates together. Hydraulic clutches are self-adjusting, simple, and efficient, which makes them a very low-maintenance option for heavy-lifting applications.

Hydraulic clutches are also more flexible than pneumatic clutches, offer similar torque levels and allow for a broader range of engagement methods. Common applications of hydraulic clutches include: 

  • PTO clutches in road building such a planers and crushers
  • Web tension control, automation, or processing
  • Off-highway applications such as chippers and grinders

Learn More About WPT Power’s Wide Range of Clutch Selections

Both pneumatic and hydraulic clutches provide the necessary force for actuation in industrial applications, but each brings its specific advantages to the table. WPT Power builds both these types of clutches, and our experienced sales consultants can help you determine the best clutch for your application’s requirements. 

Contact us to learn how WPT Power can provide the right clutch to meet your needs.