One of the most common pieces of equipment found in
plants are chains for both drives and conveyors. They are
susceptible to fatigue, overload, misalignment and premature stretching, but corrosion and contamination build-up
is arguably the most serious problem. A chain will fail or
perform improperly if excessive carbon and deposits are
allowed to develop and build over time.
Lubricating chains properly means finding and pinpointing
the correct lubricant for the application. From conveyors to
bakery ovens, not all chains should be protected by lubrication
in the same way. But, when lubrication is done properly, chain
life can be increased exponentially.
For example, when lubricating roller chain on a conveyor, you would generally in most applications want to use a
low to medium viscosity oil that has the ability to penetrate
the pins and bushings from the inside. Depending upon your
environment and temperature, your lubricant choice must be
able to handle the specific conditions by maintaining a boundary film. This means your oil could be petroleum or even
synthetic, based on the circumstances. If the roller chain is in
a high washdown situation, an oil that can withstand excessive
water over time is critical to the success of the operation.
Alternately, inside a bakery oven, the chain can be exposed to
as much as 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Average petroleum-based
mineral oils are not capable of handling this elevated level
of heat. In many cases, a strong type of synthetic oil called
an ester will help to protect, preserve and maintain a clean
lubricated surface of the chain, negating the buildup of carbon
and other contaminates. Ester-based synthetics are unique in
their chemical composition and specially designed to provide
stability and resist thinning at elevated temperatures.
Averting and preventing corrosion through lubrication is
an important and critical part of a successful preventative
maintenance program. It will lead to long-term equipment
and machinery health, cost savings and decreased downtime.
To achieve this in your facility, it is vital to adhere to OEM
recommendations and consult a lubrication engineer or specialist to pinpoint the correct lubricant for the application. Not all
lubricants are formulated the same way and they are designed
to perform differently based on specific needs and applications.
Successful corrosion control can be achieved by making the
right decision with the proper lubricant.
Chris Kniestedt is a lubrication specialist for the San
Francisco Division of Birmingham, AL-based Motion