Conveyor chains are a vital component in industrial production processes, and significantly improve their efficiency and effectiveness, but only if they are up and running properly. As essential as they are in warehouses, factories, and other facilities, their maintenance and chain lubrication is often a reconsideration.
If the chain damage or issues with the system are not identified and addressed early, they can cause your production company to fall behind on important projects and deadlines, costing you money and delay in manufacturing uptime. To keep your chains in good condition, proper lubrication and regular maintenance are critical.
Below, we discuss how you can optimize your chain lubrication program in order to keep getting a good return on your investment for a long time.
Benefits Of Chain Lubrication Program
Here's how an effective and adequate chain lubrication program can benefit your industry:
- Improve your conveyor chain life by 2-4 times
- Decrease the use of lubricant by 50 percent
- Reduce energy consumption by 5-10 percent
- Protect the chain against rust and corrosion
- Prevent debris and contaminants from accumulating inside the chain
Overall, a comprehensive lubrication program is essential to ensure the reliability and smooth operation of your industries' conveyor chains.
Selection Of lubricant
Maintenance of conveyor chains has become much easier than it was in the past due to advancements in lubrication technologies. In former times, for example, people would remove the chains, clean them with various solvents, and put them in a hot oil bath of any available oil. But now you have the advantage of selecting the lubricant of your choice - the one suited best for your machines.
While selecting chain lubricants look for products that offer:
- The ability to penetrate the interior of the chain; between roller, pin, and bushing
- High-film strength to reduce friction and wear due to metal-to-metal contact
- Ability to remove contaminants and residues from the inside and outside of the chain.
- Ability to maintain a safe film in the presence of moisture, high temperature, or high load.
Choose the best lubricant after carefully assessing the operating conditions. Use solid lubricants like graphite or MoS2 if the operating temperatures are above 450°C. Petroleum-based lubricants or synthetic lubricants will be used if the working conditions are up to 120-270°C.
Signs Of Inadequate Chain Lubrication
Usually, the chains are lubricated when they start showing problems caused by a lack of lubrication and maintenance. At this time, lubricating them is not of much use because the damage from metal-to-metal contact has already been done.
To ensure your chains have a long life and prevent their premature failure, you must keep them well inspected and maintained. Look for the following signs to check if your chains need lubrication.
- The chains have become discolored, noisy and stiff
- They have become overly stretched and elongated due to wear
- They have heavy motion between a particular pin and bushing
Use an elongation gauge to determine if the chains need replacement or can be repaired with lubrication. The elongation limit is typically between 2-2.5%.
Chain Lubrication Methods
There are three main ways to lubricate your conveyor chains. Selecting the best lubrication method depends on the speed, size, operating conditions of the chain.
- Manual Lubrication: In this method, the lubricant is applied using a brush or oil can while the equipment runs at a slow speed.
- Semi-Automatic Lubrication: This method includes a drip cup and uses a contact brush or direct drip to lubricate the chains. It is applied to conveyor chains that have low horsepower and speed range.
- Automatic Lubrication: Automatic lubrication further involves three methods. The splash method requires dipping the chain in the oil bath. The oil disc method requires lubricant to be thrown onto the chain. Lastly, the forced lubrication method includes a timely lubricant spray on an exact location and is used on conveyors with high horsepower and speed.
It is also essential to determine the relubrication intervals and the exact location to follow the lubricant program successfully.