A typical industrial environment such as a manufacturing facility has multiple types of power transmission technology being put to use. The most common drives are chain drives, belt drives, and gear drives.
When slip is your enemy, your ally is a chain drive. With chain links running over toothed sprockets, chain drives are very efficient at transmitting speed and torque. Since chain drives are not as susceptible to the negative effects of wet conditions, age, lubricants, or sunlight, maintenance cost is often low. However, the initial cost is high relative to other types of drive technology.
Swap out toothed sprockets for sheaves and a series of links for a single band and you have one of the most common methods of power transmission: a belt drive.
Belt drives are useful when a smooth transfer of power is desired or you are looking for something that is simple, cost-effective, quieter than a chain or gear drive, or if the distance between shafts is very large.
On the other hand, belt drives have a shorter lifespan compared to other types of drive technology and are more limited in speed and the amount of power they can transmit.
When power needs to be transmitted over a very short space and with a constant velocity ratio, it is difficult to top the simplicity of two discs meshed together with interlocking teeth.
Like chain drives, gear drives are excellent for reducing or eliminating slip. They are durable, efficient, have a longer lifespan than chain and belt drives, and are very compact. However, they are not the solution to applications in which power must be transmitted over a larger distance or at a high speed. They are also not ideal if flexibility, vibration, and noise are concerns.