20 years ago when the palm oil industries were filled with conventional palm oil mills that utilize cages and a lot of human labors, conveyor chains were not as widely used as compared to nowadays.
Nowadays, palm oil industries are filled with conveyor chains as opposed to 20 years ago where conventional processing methods were used. The palm oil industries now have to cater to higher processing capacity as well as cost monitoring in terms of human labor. Hence, the study of chain conveyors is necessary to maximize their lifespan and prevent the chains from failing.
Typically, chain failure can be categorized into three, which are tensile, fatigue, and wear. In a tensile failure, the chain is stretched (or literally pulled apart) to a limit where it exceeds the rated tensile strength. In a fatigue failure, the chain is used as normal within the rated tensile strength and not stretched until microscopic cracks develop in the link plates or sidebars. These cracks will continue to grow until the chain breaks. In a wear failure, due to friction (between link plates, link plates and roller, link plates and liner) the material is removed until the chain is not functioning properly or the material becomes so thin that the chain breaks.
Tensile strength can be easily prevented if selection is done right and operators are wary of the loading limit. Fatigue and material wear is definite and will happen somehow; fatigue failure, however, can be prevented through periodic monitoring and maintenance while we can reduce the effect of wear through the correct use of lubrication.
Chain wear on the pin and bushing is the usual cause for chain elongation. The chains go longer until the rollers will not fit into the sprockets correctly and could cause the chains to jump out from the sprockets and possibly snap. Another possibility that the chain could jump out from the sprockets is that the sprockets are misaligned.
The main purpose of chain lubrication is to reduce the wear between the pins and bushings of the conveyor chain, to flush out wear debris and foreign materials, and to ensure smoother engagement between the chain and the sprocket. Other than that, lubrication can prevent or slow down rusting and corrosion, cushion or reduce the impact forces, as well as transfer the heat away. The lubricant needs to be aimed into several areas, namely the pin and bushing area, between
link-plates, and between roller and bushing.
Another usual chain failure is the chain link plate distortion, usually caused by overloading or sudden load. This type of failure is commonly experienced in the fresh fruit bunches (FFB) conveyors or the sterilized fruit bunches (SFB) conveyors in the palm oil industries when the chain is undersized or not strong enough. If not rectified early, the chain link plate might break and affect the whole mill’s operation. This is why TRP conveyor chain is a better option in these heavy applications as TRP is made thicker and more durable. In fact, TRP is the first palm oil conveyor chains with increased link plate thickness to cater to heavy duty applications.
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