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Chain lubrication system `eliminates drawbacks`

11 March, 2010

A British company has developed a chain lubrication system which, it claims, overcomes the limitations of existing systems. Plymouth-based Interlube Systems says that its patented RotaLube system will apply precisely the right amount of lubricant at exactly the right place on the chain, irrespective of the speed and size of the chain, and any variations in speed.

According to Interlube, all four main traditional methods for lubricating chains have drawbacks:
•   Manual application of the lubricant by hand or spraycan is costly and erratic. The chain is often over-lubricated when a scheduled lubrication takes place, and the lubricant film is not maintained between lubrication cycles.
•   Drip-feed lubrication introduces some automation, with a pump delivering a measured quantity of lubricant, but the drips can vary in size and trajectory and the part of the chain that needs lubrication is not always where the drip lands.
•   Using a static brush, coupled to a pump which controls the frequency and volume of lubricant delivered, demands regular maintenance because the brushes can clog with dirt and the bristles often wear at unpredictable rates, leaving parts of the chain without lubricant. In addition, the brushes can force debris into the chain, stopping the lubricant from penetrating the articulating parts.
•   Spit/spray systems, the most common technology for large installations, are expensive and often need extensive pipework. Variable chain speeds can cause these systems to miss vital lubrication points.

According to Interlube, all four systems also suffer from common issues, including over-lubrication, which can cause the chain rollers to slide, leading to flat spots which prevent the rollers from rolling. Over-lubrication can also contaminate products, and lead to environmental issues and costly waste.
Under-lubrication can cause a chain to wear and break down prematurely. As chains stretch over time, altering the pitch of their pins, the static lubrication points of spray nozzles cannot compensate and costly manual intervention is needed to reset them. In addition, the nozzles can get damaged and dislodged, preventing the lubricant from penetrating the pins where needed.

Interlube asserts that its new system (shown above) eliminates these drawbacks. It is based on an applicator that moves with the chain, delivering lubricant directly where needed, in a controlled, consistent manner. This eliminates the problem of wear and the applicator does not get blocked by dirt or debris. According to Interlube, it maintains accurate lubrication over time, whatever the condition of the chain and pins.

The Rotalube system does not need complex control systems or intricate pipework. It is said to be much quicker to install than other systems, and if an applicator is damaged, it can be replaced within minutes. The system fits all standard chain sizes from ½-1 inch, in both BS and American standard versions.

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