Enormous increase in system efficiency
"Ten years ago, we began to systematically investigate and evaluate the characteristic features of tribological stresses, i.e. friction and wear, in automation and conveyor technology. The LubX product family was developed on the basis of these findings," says Jens Korte, Project Manager Corporate R&D at Röchling Industrial. Conveyor technology uses plastics in application such as under transport chains or as sliding elements. To reduce friction and wear, lubricant was added from the outside. "This is precisely where our development team from Sales, Production, Quality Assurance, Materials Testing and Development came in. Our goal was to integrate the lubricant into the material. Together with our customer and a research facility, we developed such a recipe," explains Korte. This is how the products LubX® C and LubX® S were created. “They brought about an enormous increase in the efficiency of the systems, as the materials significantly reduced friction compared to the PE-UHMW in conventionally use,” says Korte.
Material matched to sliding partners for the first time
The newly created formulation for LubX® was an innovation on the strength of the integrated lubricant alone. "But we wanted to develop more than just a new material. In cooperation with the customer from the materials handling technology sector, we looked at the tribological systems of a conveyor system," says Korte. Korte’s team focused on the elements that come into direct contact with the material. In interdisciplinary collaboration, including materials testing, production, development, sales and the customer, precise requirements were identified and implemented accordingly. The result was the LubX® C variant in the first step. The material LubX® C is specially designed for contact with conveyor chains made of POM and steel. In the next step, the team developed LubX® S, a material that exhibits outstanding sliding properties when it is in contact with bottles made of PET. “These materials, which were specially adapted to their sliding partners, set new standards and changed the mindset in materials handling technology and automation,” states Korte.
No static charge with LubX® CV
Over the years, the Röchling Industrial development team has proactively developed the product family, adapting perfectly to ever-increasing industry requirements. With LubX® CV, the team launched a new material that is particularly suitable for systems of higher speeds and compressive loads. For this reason, in 2016, the team was awarded the Röchling Group Innovation Award. The newest development is LubX® AST color, a sliding material with antistatic effect. Adapted to a challenge from the pharmaceutical industry, LubX® AST color prevents conveyor systems from building up an electrostatic charge. "When filling medication vials, such as for the current coronavirus vaccine, electrostatic charging resulted in an unstable process and some ampoules fell over. A rail guide of LubX® AST color prevents this behaviour and the vials can be filled at a precise position at high speeds," says Korte, explaining the background.
Turnover in the millions over a period of 10 years
"The products in the LubX® family have won recognition with well-known customers in Europe and the USA. This is also reflected in the turnover, with the LubX® products we have achieved a turnover of more than 75 million Euros," says Korte. For the second half of the year, the development team is aiming at a sustainable LubX® version that maintains the qualitative properties of the LubX® product family.