All replacement forklift truck chains should be supplied with a chain test certificate that provides crucial information about the chain’s minimum breaking load and proof load.
But while the majority of forklift manufacturers and maintenance firms place a lot of importance on receiving these test certificates, the reality is that many will file them away without looking at them.
In this blog post, we describe the benefits of taking a closer look - and the key elements to look out for in your leaf chain test certificate.
Looking beyond the standard
Over the past decade, the various different types of forklift truck chain have become increasingly consolidated. So nowadays when ordering leaf chain, most firms will simply ask for the generic part number from the International Leaf Chain Standard ISO4347 (for example BL634).
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that this standard only refers to the dimensions of the leaf chain elements and the minimum tensile strength.
It is also crucial to check that the safe working load stated on the certificate exceeds the capacity of the lifting equipment.
Most forklift truck manufacturers, for example, will require leaf chain with a greater minimum tensile strength than the International Standard ISO4347.
Leaf chain quality and consistency
If you quote only the generic part number when ordering your replacement leaf chain, and if you fail to take into consideration the breaking load, then there is a high probability that you may not receive the correct quality or consistency of product that your particular materials handling application requires.
The properties of the leaf chain you select should also ensure the optimum balance between strength, wear rate, fatigue life and resistance to shock loading.
The safe working load of a leaf chain will usually be shown on the test certificate in kilonewtons (kN).
If the capacity of your equipment is given in kilograms or pounds then you will need to refer to a safe working load conversion table which will be available to download.
Compliance with safety legislation
It is important to check that the safety legislation quoted on your test certificate is reliable and up to date. And within the UK, for example, the certificate should refer to the current requirements of The Machinery Directive, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Directive (LOLER) and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER.)
In addition, some Leaf Chain Test Certificates may also be supported by the BITA, FLTA and NQA, which provides added assurance of the quality, performance and durability of your chain.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all leaf chain test certificates are created equal.
What distinguishes an FB Chain Test Certificate from other leaf chain test certificates, for example, is the presence of a unique test certificate number.
Each batch of FB leaf chain is numbered both on the test certificate and on a highly visible plate on the chain itself which means that each chain can be traced back through every stage of the manufacturing process to its very beginnings as a basic raw material.
The working load comes from the safety factor applied - which on an FB test certificate is 5 to 1 or 20% of the breaking load – so the chain has proof applied which is 40% of its breaking load.
Without this degree and depth of vital information, it is impossible to know for sure that the information contained in your test certificate is applicable to the exact length of leaf chain you are buying.
The details contained in a Leaf Chain Test Certificate really do matter.
Insisting on a comprehensive leaf chain test certificate will ensure your leaf chain achieves optimum compliance with manufacturing procedures and quality standards.
It will also provide the peace of mind that your leaf chain is capable of consistently performing to the high level that this form of safety-critical item demands.