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Chocolate Moulding Lines

Optimal chain lubrication for chocolate moulding lines

RotaLube automatic chain lubrication systems are used by some of the world’s biggest confectionary companies to prevent product contamination on chocolate moulding lines. The targeted and measured application prevents the build-up of lubricant and food residue that can fall onto products, helping to avoid customer complaints and reputational damage. The simplified maintenance of the lubrication system also supports high production output and reduces operational costs in chocolate manufacturing.

What is blec and how does it damage a chocolate manufacturer’s brand image?

Blec, as it is called in the confectionary industry, is a black substance caused by excess chain lube mixing with chocolate and wafer dust in chocolate moulding plants. It sticks to conveyor chains and if not regularly removed can cause a build-up at risk of falling onto products and contaminating them.

Unwrapping a contaminated chocolate bar is a shocking experience for consumers. Contaminated chocolate not only poses a health risk but also undermines the trust that consumers have in the brand, potentially leading to customer complaints, reputational damage, and loss of business.

It is, therefore, essential for food manufacturers to prioritise product safety and take all necessary measures to prevent contamination of their chocolate products.

How does RotaLube prevent contamination in chocolate moulding plants?

RotaLube prevents the formation and build-up of blec on chocolate moulding lines by optimising the application of conveyor chain lubricant. With RotaLube, the lubricant remains where it is needed and there is no excess, meaning there is nothing on the chain for the chocolate and dust to stick to.

A specially designed applicator, shaped like a sprocket, applies precise amounts of lubricant directly to the chain pins and bushes – and nowhere else – while the lines are in operation. Unlike conventional lubrication systems, the application of oil onto the chain is both precise and accurate irrespective of chain speed or chain stretch.

Which types of chocolate moulding machines are suitable for automated lubrication?

RotaLube automatic lubrication systems can be installed on all fixed mould chocolate moulding lines operating on large chain lengths, including those from Aasted, Carle Montanari, Buhler Bindler and other major chocolate moulding machine OEMs.

RotaLube is also compatible with any other system operating a chain carrier style mechanism.

What is the installation process for RotaLube automated lubrication systems on chocolate moulding lines?

RotaLube systems are simple and can easily be installed by a chocolate manufacturer’s own engineers. The system comprises an RLK unit to handle the oil (reservoir, pump, piping) and two Rotalube applicators designed for the specific chain to be lubricated.

The most important part of the installation is to decide on an appropriate position for the applicators – away from the chocolate depositor, and where they can be easily and safely mounted and maintained.

The system is then positioned on the plant and linked to the main encoder. A run time and dwell time are programmed into the pump depending on chain speed and length of chain. Guidance on the system setting is given prior to or during installation.

The system feeds air through the applicator and oil is dispersed into the air stream as required to ensure delivery to the correct location on the chain. The air stream is used to clear the system after lubrication is complete.

Which lubricants are recommended for chocolate moulding plants?

Confectionary companies must pair their RotaLube systems with specialist food safety lubricants that meet all legal requirements for use in food manufacturing. In partnership with lubricant experts Interflon, Fuchs, Klüber and Castrol, we can recommend the right food-grade lubricant for your chocolate moulding operations and supply it together with RotaLube as a complete chocolate moulding line lubrication solution. Lubricant can be delivered on subscription to ensure you are never without supply.

Case Study A

RotaLube was installed on two Aasted lines at a chocolate factory in Halifax, UK, in 2012 and is still operating with the same chains today.

The previous automatic lubrication system fed oil to the chains via brushes, which were overlubricating and covering the entire chains with oil. Lubricant was mixing with chocolate and wafer dust to create a black a substance, known in the trade as blec, which would build up and fall onto the products. The blec was extremely difficult to remove from the chains. The normal procedure was to manually clean the chain, which was slow, expensive, and required the chocolate moulding machine to be taken out of operation. The chains were also suffering substantial chain wear, 60% of which was due to ineffective lubrication.

RotaLube has generated significant cost savings for the chocolate manufacturer due to the increase in chain service life, lower maintenance requirements, and lower chain oil consumption. Crucially, the company has experienced a noticeable decrease in customer complaints, helping to retain consumer trust and a positive brand reputation.

Case Study B

RotaLube was installed on two chocolate figure moulding/forming lines with 4” pitch chains at a plant in Belgium in August 2022.

Previously, lubrication had been carried out with a simple hand oil can, which meant that the chain lube did not necessarily reach the pins and bushes where it was needed. The application of the chain lube was also too liberal, leading to safety issues.

RotaLube helped implement a safe and reliable process for chain lubrication on the two chocolate moulding lines, decreasing the risk of product contamination and harm to employees.