Hard Life and Times on the Chain Gang

Hard Life and Times on the Chain Gang

Dow CorningA smoked meats and sausage processing plant was experiencing premature failure and degrading of their drag chain. Rust and accelerated wear were costing them valuable time, money and production.

The problem, in addition to a high humidity atmosphere, was frequent washdown with high pressure water and chemicals – which negatively affected the ability of their existing mineral oil-based substance to protect and lubricate the chain.

The washdown process caused water to emulsify with the aromatics in the mineral oil lubricating the chain and removed all chain oil from the metal surface as well. This left the chain unprotected from oxidation, resulting in excessive chain rusting and wear.

In addition, the tackifier in the chain oil blocked oil from the internal surfaces of the chain. To make things even more complicated, the chain oil being used did not meet applicable USDA standards for food contact.

Dow Corning came to their rescue. They recommended Molykote® L-1468FG Synthetic Blend Chain Oil.

As a food-grade synthetic lubricant, this product contains a tackifier that does not thicken the oil. It was selected because it kept the desired flowability for the life of the oil. The oil maintains its viscosity and does not degrade to create byproducts that block the flow of oil to internal chain surfaces. The high film strength of L-1468FG held it in place, thus preventing rust and subsequent wear to all components of the chain. This full protection has continued for over five years.

Using Molykote L-1468FG Synthetic Blend Chain Oil to lubricate chain drives is a cost-effective way to prevent premature lubricant failure and extend maintenance intervals. Unlike oils made in conventional fractionation processes, the synthetic oil is made by combining smaller molecular “building blocks” to meet targeted performance specifications and to minimize impurities.

Molykote L-1468FG is compatible with new-generation additives that enhance lubrication performance. This synthetic oil has an inherent tendency to adhere to chains in frequent washdown conditions without emulsifying and blocking penetration of lubricant to internal chain surfaces.

The custom-blended polyalphaolefin (PAO) synthetic oil gives excellent lubrication at high and low temperatures, reduced volatility and compatibility with equipment designed for use with mineral oils. It conforms to USDA listing requirements applicable to meat and poultry plants and is qualified for direct food contact under FDA regulations.

To ensure the necessary adherence while preventing blockage, a standard chain oil viscosity of ISO 68 was selected for a new synthetic chain oil. The oil is formulated with a new-generation anti-wear (AW) additive to address sliding conditions of the chain side plates. A food-grade tackifying chemical was also added to the chain oil. This particular tackifier does not act as a thickening agent to the oil. The oil maintains its design viscosity over its service life, ensuring that proper oil films exist at all times. The thickening and subsequent blockage exhibited by the conventional chain oil did not occur. In this way, the new tacky chain oil maintained oxidation protection on all surfaces of the chain.

The oil was tested in application at ambient temperatures of 4-38°C (40-100°F). The ISO 68 viscosity of the selected synthetic oil suited this operating temperature. The greater adherence and film strength of the new foodgrade chain oil during washdown ensured the chain was continuously protected from potential oxidation. Since the tackifier did not thicken the oil, the oil maintained its desired viscosity during service. Within 90 days of testing, the meat manufacturer adopted the new food-grade chain oil as its standard for this application.

Outperforming the previous conventional mineral-based chain oil, this food-grade synthetic oil maintained its film strength during several washdowns. Reapplied as needed, the new oil provided continuous protection from rust and wear to the chain for over five years.

To learn more about Molykote L-1468FG Synthetic Blend Chain Oil from Dow-Corning and IBT, or to explore the rest of Dow Corning’s complete line of lubricants for industry, contact your IBT sales rep or write to us.

Reasons For Using Molykote L-1468FG Synthetic Blend Chain Oil in Food Processing Plants

  • Adhere to regulatory standards
  • Get more reliable lubrication
  • Experience longer chain life
  • Reduce use of lubricant
  • Extend interval between applications of lubricant
  • Simplify record-keeping for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)
  • Maintain better conveyor performance
  • Reduce energy consumption


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