Lubrication of the lift chain: our tips

The lift chain is an important part of the lift truck that deserves a lot of attention. The lifespan and good functioning of a lift chain depend on its use and maintenance.

Each mechanical system, whether complex or not, requires constant lubrication in order to function perfectly and be protected. It is crucial that lift chains are regularly treated with a professional lubricant. By lubricating the chain, it retains it optimal functionality, and a longer lifespan is guaranteed.  

How can you recognise a good lubricant?

Attention, lubricant is not the same as lubricating grease. We talk about lubrication when the lubricant is liquid, and about grease when it is a solid.

Always use a lubricant suitable for chains. A lubricant in the form of a spray is the most suitable. This way, the lubricant penetrates between the plates and round the pins to prevent rust.

How to lubricate the chain?

When it comes to maintaining the chain, it is sufficient to use a lubricant spray to remove any impurities that are stuck between the links. Sand, dust and other dirt sticking in the chain, acts as an abrasive and reduces the lifespan considerably. Chains can only be cleaned by means of paraffin derivatives, such as petroleum or diesel oil. Never clean the chains with a high-pressure cleaner, air spray or chemicals.

Never re-lubricate the chain while it is under tension, as this will prevent the lubricant from reaching in all crevices and openings. Always spray on the interior of the chain links and not on the sides, as this will not lubricate the links. If you lubricate the interior of the links, the lubricant will remain in place longer. The chain definitely has to be properly lubricated on the sections that run across the guide rollers.


How often do you need to lubricate?

Each day, week, month ... this of course all depends on the environment the lift truck is used in. A lift truck that is used outdoor or in a dusty environment will require more lubrication than a lift truck that is used in a clean warehouse. 

It is therefore obvious that frequent maintenance and sufficient lubrication help to reduce costly downtime and a loss of productivity.

When do you need to replace the lift chain?

Every day, the lift truck lifts hundreds of kilos, day after day. In 'normal' conditions, a chain has a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. A chain wear gauge is essential to measure the chain.

According to the official regulations, a chain is worn when the section running over the guide roller is stretched beyond 3%. For safety reasons, we recommend replacing chains when they display an elongation of 2%.

In the event of external damage, it is recommended to replace the chain immediately, since such damage will eventually lead to irreparable damage.

An inspection of the chains must be a daily routine, but it is best to also have them inspected by an expert once in a while. Chains operate in extreme conditions, and chain breakage must be avoided at all costs. 

Conclusion: the better you maintain your lift chain with a good lubricant, the better you can prevent risks of breakage and premature wear and - as a result - a loss of productivity.


Nele, TVH blogger

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