Conveyorized oven chains generally use semi-precision ball bearings that can have a reduced life in ovens. Extreme temperatures cause lubricants, even synthetic ones, to evaporate quickly and carbonize chains and bearings, resulting in bearing seizure. Also, oiling and cleaning issues make properly maintaining an oven’s chain extremely time-consuming and expensive.
To combat these issues, Stewart Systems, Inc., Plano, TX, introduced a new lube-free chain that requires no external lubrication. Self-lubricating deep-groove precision ball bearings use a solid graphite lubricant that is internally bonded to the bearing.
Len Kilby, the company’s president, noted that the lube-free oven chain greatly reduces maintenance in bakery plants and leads to savings in lubricants, with potential annual savings of up to $30,000. And while the lube-free chain is considerably more expensive than a traditional chain, the payback for this new product is generally less than two years, he added.