Conveyor Lubrication System

conveyor lubrication systems

For improved power transfer and reduced wear, corrosion and noise, a conveyor lubrication system can provide the solution. Lubrication that is interrupted or inadequate can cause conveyor chains to prematurely fail, disrupting production and forcing costly downtime.

DropsA is an industry leader when it comes to solving the industry’s most challenging lubrication issues. We are an ISO 9001-accredited company providing innovative chain lubrication systems and components. We design and manufacture advanced products that enhance productivity while meeting the highest standards of energy efficiency, environmental compliance and ease of operation.

What Is a Chain Lubrication System?

A chain lubrication system is designed to protect the chain against excessive wear and friction; it’s also the surest way to extend the life of the chain, minimize machine downtime, and reduce repair and maintenance costs.

Without lubrication, the chain is exposed to elements like particles, sand, dirt, dust, and water. That exposure increases friction and reduces the wear strength of each of the metal links until, eventually, the excessive friction leads to failure. For conveyors and transmission systems, a chain failure leads to lost time and lost production throughput, which is extremely costly.

Conveyors Driving Productivity

From mining and materials manufacturing to food processing and transportation, conveyor chains are vital to productivity. However, during their many thousands of hours of operation, these chains can experience recurring problems and failure.

Chain Failure Issues

According to Machinery Lubrication magazine, the most common types of chain applications, such as steel bushing and roller chains, typically experience three types of failure: tensile, fatigue and wear.

  • Tensile failure results when a chain is overloaded, for example when too much weight is placed on a conveyor. The chain tends to stretch from the stress of tensile force to the point where it no longer functions properly or fails altogether.
  • Chain fatigue failure is the result of repeated loading at or below its rated yield strength. Although the chain does not stretch, microscopic cracks in the link plates and sidebars form that can eventually lead to failure.
  • Chain wear is the result of friction from surface contact or contact combined with corrosion. This steady removal of material continues until link plates and bushings have become so thin that they fail under load.

Chain wear, which is often seen between the pin and bushings, can cause the chain to grow longer without stretching. Over time, such wear causes the elongated chain to no longer fit the sprockets or to maintain proper spacing.

Productive Service

chain lubrication systemsAfter an initial, rapid period of break-in wear, a properly and timely lubricated chain can provide thousands of hours of productive service. It is generally understood that a correctly designed and operated conveyor lubrication system can extend the useful life of a chain by 100 times or more.

With any mechanical system, time in service takes a toll. For conveyor chains, a terminal stage of wear can be seen in pins and bushings that have nearly worn through or when elongation causes increased or uneven loads on specific joints.

When a chain does not receive adequate lubrication, wear increases. In addition to a loss of reliability, an ineffective or disrupted lubrication system can cause a chain to wear rapidly and unevenly, and it will experience increased friction and a damaging rise in temperature.

Lubrication reduces wear between pins and bushings. It also helps remove wear particles and other debris while reducing friction where the chain engages a sprocket. Likewise, a conveyor lubrication system can deter corrosion and helps transfer heat and mitigate impact shock.

Viscosity Balance

Conveyor chains should be lubricated by an oil with a viscosity low enough to penetrate to the inside of essential surfaces but high enough to preserve the friction-reducing film on surfaces under prevalent temperatures and pressures. Lubrication should be applied to the upper edges of the link plate or the sidebar along the lower span.

Chain Lubrication Systems

At DropsA, we can provide the right lubricant and delivery system for the application. Our lines of standard and custom feeders, pumps, controls and supplemental equipment are built to support a wide variety of chain lubrication systems.

When it comes to industrial lubrication problems, the specialists at DropsA provide solutions. We have developed and produced centralized lubrication systems and components for industrial applications for nearly 75 years.

Common Causes of Chain Fails

One of the most common causes of chain failure includes fatigue. Since most machinery and equipment are load rated, repeatedly exceeding that load means fatigue failure is more likely to occur.

Another cause of chain failure is tensile failure. Materials have a yield, which is the highest level of stress a material can withstand before deformation occurs. Tensile failure can result from a single instance of overloading whereas fatigue happens over time from multiple excessive loads.

Finally, the chain itself can fail because of excessive wear. This is caused by a chain that experiences high friction caused by running surface contact. This can come from abrasive particles lodging themselves between the links, not having a conveyor lubrication system to remove those particles, or material being gradually removed from the plates and bushings.

Benefits of Oil Condition Monitoring Sensors (OCMs)

Manufacturers relying on oil condition monitoring sensors (OCMs) not only receive valuable information in real-time but also enjoy the following benefits:

  • Significant Cost Reduction: OCMs reduce overall maintenance costs because they quickly intervene when oil condition changes.
  • Increased Remaining Useful Life (RUL): Sensors can extend the oil’s RUL by alerting end users to contamination, temperature, and other events that may degrade or permanently corrupt oil.
  • Decrease Downtime: Manually monitoring an oil’s condition is a time-consuming process, by opting for a sensor, you’ll increase employee productivity and reduce overall downtime.
  • Eliminates Sampling Errors: An automatic sensor reduces human errors, as well as the overhead cost of sending samples to laboratories.
  • Prevents Catastrophic Mechanical Failures: insufficient oil viscosity will affect your machine’s performance. Because OCMs will alert you when there are contaminations or other changes in your oil’s conditions, you can easily prevent these failures.

The Capabilities of an OCM

Oil condition monitoring sensors continuously perform a wide array of assessments, including, but not limited to:

  • Operating Temperature
  • Fluid Temperature
  • Relative Humidity
  • Additive Reductions
  • Viscosity
  • Soot/Sulfur/Debris Percentage
  • Contamination Event

OCMs Versus Traditional Monitoring

Older, traditional sensors detected oil oxidation but not other measurements that are critical to keeping oil conditions optimized. Manually taking oil samples takes too much time and is prone to statistically significant errors. The newest oil condition monitoring sensors provide real-time, on-demand data that detect the smallest reductions in general oil quality, percentage of humidity, soot, viscosity, base number, and other key indicators of oil quality.

In some cases, OCMs may not replace lab testing of oil samples, but monitoring sensors will give end users insights into potential problems that could cause extensive damage to machines or engines. Cutting-edge sensor technology called electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) enables sensors to evaluate a wide range of oil properties and increases sensitivity to impending failure conditions.