What is Tribology and how can lubricant selection improve leaf chain performance?
Nowadays, demanding environments dictate that the forklift mast chain runs faster, longer, and at different temperatures, rendering the traditional approach almost obsolete. Modern lubricants need to meet exact specifications that are specific to each forklift chain application.
So, what is tribology? Officially, it’s the study of friction, lubrication, and wear, and in recent years, it has become the byword for lubricant selection. Each lubricant has its own tribological system.
Identifying The Tribological System
Identifying the tribological system of an application takes place before the selection of a lubricant which includes factors involving motion, speed, temperature, load and the working environment.
Following the identification of the chain, the lubrication engineer can determine the appropriate lubricant based on the chemical analysis to ensure optimal chain performance. In this article, we will discuss the various factors involved in identifying the tribology system of an application and how this influences the choice of lubricant.
Factor One of Tribology: Motion
The first factor of the tribological system involves the type of motion. What type of movement is involved? In the presence of motion between two surfaces, friction is created, which is resistance to relative motion. Friction between surfaces can cause wear and material loss, as well as alter the topography of materials over time.
Speeds impact on lubrication in tribology
Another tribological system parameter is speed. The speed of chain element bearings may be divided into three categories: quick, moderate, and slow. Whether it’s the rotation of the gears in a transmission or the sliding of surfaces in a bearing, speed affects the behaviour of lubricants and, subsequently, the performance of the entire system.
Temperature and lubricant performance in tribology
All lubricants have specific temperature ranges for optimal performance. Many lubricants have a broad operational temperature range; however, some lubricants are more suited for lower temperatures.
Load Management and Lubrication on Tribology Systems
Load is an important factor affecting the chain lubricant requirement. A light load may indicate the application is sensitive to frictional torque, and therefore a lubricant would have to be selected to minimise the fluid friction while still providing protection from metal-to-metal friction. A heavily loaded forklift chain, which could require specific additives to help protect from pitting, galling and extreme wear.
Environmental Factors and Lubricants in Tribology
The last parameter of the tribological system is the forklift’s operating environment. If the environment includes moisture or water, the lubricant must provide good anti-corrosion properties as well as resistance to water washout or contamination. If the application operates in a vacuum or partial vacuum, the atmospheric pressure of the application must be within the operational limits of the lubricant and above its vapor pressure at the operating temperature.
Multipurpose lubricants cannot provide satisfactory service in current demanding environments. Lubricant performance must be optimized to meet the increasing demands of modern industry.
Hopefully, this has given some insight into what tribology is and how lubricant selection can improve leaf chain performance. If you have any questions, feel free to fill out a contact form, and a skilled member of our team will be in contact with you. See the link below: