The lubrication of conveyor belts

A careful lubrication of conveyor belts is indispensable to obtain a good sliding degree of containers, granting a correct synchronism among the different stages of the packaging. The lubrication solution offered by AEB.

Conveyor belts for containers of liquid products (mineral water, soft-drinks, fruit juices, milk, etc.) are composed by a set of metal or plastic links joined together with hinges enabling their flexibility. The chains, formed by the links, glide over runners, which nowadays are almost always in plastic material. A careful lubrication of conveyor belts is indispensable to obtain a good sliding degree of containers (anti-friction function), granting a correct synchronism among the different stages of the packaging (filler, labelling machine, etc.), besides avoiding problems such as the falling of containers during the stages of slowing down/speeding up in the belt speed. Other important aspects of the lubrication are:

  • wear of the container bottom;
  • containers break, in particular the glass ones, with a possible interruption of the processing;
  • containers crushing, in particular those in poly-coupled material (paper);
  • excessive wear of belts and gliding runners;
  • higher strain of motor-reducers making chains turn, and consequently their higher wear and a higher consumption of electricity;
  • to keep belts clean by avoiding (limiting as much as possible) the environmental microbial pollution caused by the dirt on/under the links of the belts (residues of product, dust, wear material of belts/runners).

The lubrication of conveyor belts for containers in the beverage industry has always represented an aspect of primary importance: against an expense of about 2% of the operational costs of a company for the purchase of lubricants, there is an increase of about 28% on the budget in the case of a bad lubrication of the equipment. The above-mentioned costs are referred to the utilization of lubricants of the second generation (amine-based).

Today, lubricants of the first generation (based on fatty acids, surfactants, vegetable oils) are still used: they are suitable for production lines not particularly quick, with belts with metallic links and in the presence of particularly “dirtying” liquids, such as fruit juices, wine and soft-drinks.

The lubrication solution by AEB

Lubimatic Multicontrol

The formulations based on fatty acids proposed by AEB are:

  • Abilube: for slow lines – Usage concentration 0,8% – 2%
  • Lubil N2: for average slow lines – Usage concentration 0,5% – 1,5%

The usage concentrations of products based on fatty acids are indicative and are influenced by the hardness of the water used for dilution.

The amine-based lubricants proposed by AEB are:

  • Lubisan Super VET: for glass bottles/containers – Usage concentration 0,1% – 0,8%
  • Lubisan Super Dry: for PET-PVC bottles/containers – Usage concentration 0,1% – 0,8%

During the last years lubricants with a silicon base have been created, that can be considered food grade, in the same way as formulations based on amines and fatty acids. The characteristic of these products is that they can be used only on belts with links in a synthetic material and that do not carry glass or tinned plate containers.

The peculiarities of these lubricants for conveyor belts are:

  • low or absent foaminess, hence a guarantee that foam does not interfere with control equipment based on photocells;
  • no aggression towards materials;
  • low environmental impact (no surfactants, COD 380 ppm O2);
  • the hardness of the water utilized to make the lubricant solution has no influence;
  • very low utilization concentrations and hence strong decrease of op-eration costs.

The silicon-based formulation proposed by AEB is:

  • Sintolube: for PET-PVC bottles/containers – Usage concentration 0,1% – 0,4%

Lubimatic Control Dry

Dry lubrication

The latest generation technology is the so called “dry” lubrication. Practically, it is based on formulations which are ready to use, that is with no dilution in water, and supplied automatically on the belts, with specific equipment and suitable spraying stations, with very low concentrations and for short time – from 5” to 15” with a time interval that may reach 4-5 hours between one treatment and the other. This system, called Dry-System, enables a product saving of about 70-80% and this means a saving of more than 50% from the economic point of view.

The advantages obtained with the utilization of this kind of formulations are:

  • very low product consumption if compared to the lubrication systems with traditional products based on fatty acids, amines and silicon;
  • no water consumption;
  • convincing decrease of waste material and of substances – produced by the lubrication – difficult to be discharged run into depuration plants;
  • total absence of foam on the belts and hence on the underlying floor, with an improvement of production rooms;
  • no danger that operators can slide, hence a reduction in the possible accidents caused by the lubricant solution on the floors.

The silicon-based formulation for the dry utilization proposed by AEB is:

  • Sintodry: for PET-PVC bottles/containers – Usage concentration as it is

How to choose a lubricant

It is clear that the only lubrication aspect, in terms of effectiveness and performance, represents for a bottling plant an element not to be set aside from other factors such as the line structure, their arrangement inside the production area and the effectiveness of the equipment. Considering these general concepts, it is clear that the choice of a lubricant and of its proper supply system will necessarily be subject to some considerations, in particular, the factors to be considered are:

  • the technical-applicative aspect intended in its wider context (belt speed, supply modality, friction coefficient, container weight, kind of water, etc.);
  • the guarantee that the container is not directly (composition material) nor indirectly (serigraphy, label, production data, etc.) at-tacked;
  • the ecological-environmental aspect intended in the wider sense of observance of the functionality of depuration plants;
  • the safety aspect for operators present in production areas;
  • the economic aspect.

The lubricant compatibility with composition materials (conveyor belts and containers) represents of course the first argument to face. It is useless to choose a formulation if it does not grant that it does not attack surfaces, independently from all other factors that may be considered afterwards. In order to value the “compatibility” between lubricant and container, trials are carried out on the different materials (glass, PET, PVC, paper/poly-coupled, tinned plate) and also the impact towards serigraphy, inks, etc. Other evaluations are carried out when the lubricant is optimized, with the survey of the different friction values, suitably measured. The survey is carried out in the different parts of the conveyor belts, empty or full containers – accumulation areas – production stop with belts moving – areas with a particular friction – belts utilized for packaging in different sizes. All the gathered information will contribute to define the supply/non supply times, the number of spraying station and the kind of supply heads.

AEB proposes a range of specific equipments for the utilization of its lubricant formulations:

Lubimatic Multicontrol: equipment for the automatic supply of lubricant solutions with a ON/OFF programmable temporized system. The preparation of the lubricant solution is carried out by means of a water pump and the obtained solution is conveyed to the line with the pressure of the water network. The system is suitable for one or more lines with the application of “satellites” and is able to supply up to 100/120 spraying stations. Lubimatic Multicontrol is normally utilized with the following AEB lubricants: Lubisan Super Dry, Lubisan Super VET, Lubil N2, Sintolube;

Lubimatic Control Dry: centralized equipment for the automatic supply of “DRY” lubricants, with a ON/OFF programmable temporized sys-tem. The lubricant is conveyed to the line by means of a membrane pneumatic pump with a pressure of 4 Bar. The system is suitable for one or more lines with the application of “satellites” and is able to supply up to 100/120 spraying stations. The spraying stations utilized with Lubimatic Control Dry are dry-system and no-drop and are able to grant a particular homogeneous nebulisation of the product on the en-tire surface of that particular area. Lubimatic Control Dry is used only with AEB “DRY” lubricants: Sintodry.

AEB has a technical-commercial organization able to:

  • carry out all necessary inspections and evaluations in order to choose the formulations and equipments suitable to any production plant;
  • install control panels and lubrication lines;
  • prepare and optimize the system;
  • carry out programmed interventions to verify the equipment/product in order to grant the effectiveness and the maximum economic management of the plant;
  • carry out possible modifications of the lubrication plant if there are changes in the order of the equipment and the relative conveyor belts.

All AEB formulations are in accordance with EC Regulations about the utilization of chemical products in companies packaging, storing and transporting foodstuff and in particular with EC Regulation 93/43/EC and those regulating the application of the HACCP self-control system.

 

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