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Importance of Properly Maintaining Forklift Chains

Filed under: Forklift Maintenance & Upkeep

One of the most critical moving parts to maintain on your forklift are the chains.

The chains move every time you raise and lower the mast, this can exert large amounts of strain (especially when utilised as part of a 24/7 operation).

This weeks blog looks at the dangers of old forklift chains and what to look for to avoid the associated risks and hazards.

It will also discuss how to properly inspect your chains to determine whether or not to replace them.

forklift chains move whenever the mast moves

Dangers of Old Forklift Chains

The critical part of forklift chains are the pins that connect the links together to create the full chain length. The pins hold the full weight of the loads you are moving.

Over time due to the enormous pressure exerted on the pins and chain they wear out.

forklift chains plate and pin diagram

Due to this excessive operational usage there is a strong chance incorrectly maintained chains can fail (snap/break).

Should a chain fail the operator and those in the near vicinity are at risk of sustaining serious injury or even death depending on the size of the load being carried.

Stock and/or property damage are also significant risks if a chain was to break.

Signs you need to replace your forklifts chains

  1. Protruding or turned pins – without correct lubrication pins within a chain can twist out of place, resulting in the chains integrity being compromised. Chains should always be well lubricated at all times with appropriate lubricant

  2. Plate cracking – stress, corrosion, environmental factors or overloading can result in cracks appearing in the chains plates. If cracks are detected the forklift should be immediately removed from service and the chain replaced

  3. Misalignment – enlarged holes on the outside of plates and/or worn down heads of pins holding the plates together are both signs of misalignment. Continual operation of a misaligned chain will result in damage to both the chain and sheaves, with eventual chain failure

  4. >3% wear or elongation (it is recommended this is conducted by a qualified technician) – using a chain gauge to measure wear and elongation of the chain. If this exceeds the safety threshold of 3% the chain should be replaced as its integrity has been compromised and it will lose overall strength

  5. Broken links – dropping a load or operating a unit over uneven surfaces can result in chain links breaking. Any chain with partial or fully broken links should be replaced immediately

  6. Corrosion and rust – corrosion and rust in large amounts seriously compromise the integrity of the chain resulting in a higher risk of it failing. Rusted or corroded chains should be replaced immediately

cracked and rusted forklift chain leads to chain failure

Chain Inspections

A general visual chain inspection should be part of any pre-start procedure undertaken by operators at the start of their shifts.

However periodically the chain should be removed from the unit and comprehensively inspected.

Too properly check chains follow these steps

  1. Remove the chain and lay on a flat surface
  2. Whilst flat inspect each link for broken links
  3. If a link is broken the chain should be discarded and replaced immediately
  4. If all links are intact turn the chain on its side and inspect all pins connecting the links
  5. Pins should look all the same, if any of the pins are twisted or look different the chain needs to be replaced

Adaptalift’s parts department stock a wide range of genuine Hyster and high quality aftermarket forklift chains to fit the full Hyster materials handling range as well as other leading brands through our Rapidparts program.

So if you need help servicing your equipment our national network of workshops and highly qualified mobile technicians are able to conduct forklift chain inspections and replacements.

To book your next chain inspection or order replacement chains contact Adaptalift on 13 22 54 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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