man operating a chain machine many years agoFB Chain’s history dates all the way back to the 1870s, when Adolf Fredrik Hedengran established a factory in central Eskilstuna, Sweden for the manufacture of iron and steel products.  In 1908, the company was purchased by the newly formed Eskilstuna Fabriks AB. Working under this name, it produced chains for the first time in 1912.  

On the back of supplying leaf chain to Lancing Bagnall (now Linde) in Basingstoke England,  FB Chain UK was established in 1986 and quickly became a leading supplier of leaf chain to the forklift and materials handling industry. While other companies in the FB group supply lots of roller chain, conveyor chain and tooth chain, we act as the centre of excellence for leaf chain for the FB group across Europe.  We currently supply parts to three of the top five forklift manufacturers in the world.

More than 15 years ago the FB chain sales team suggested that we stock a plastic ruler chain wear gauge which customers could use to tell if a chain is worn. The idea was to give them away as a promotional item.  Over the years we had assembled a collection of these giveaway ruler type chain wear gauges and, considering the importance of measuring chain elongation, they were flimsy, inaccurate and not easy to use.  In fact, most of them looked pretty cheap and didn’t inspire any confidence in their ability to do the job.

Through our work on British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) technical and ISO standards committees we were aware that there was an increasing amount of attention being given to chain safety and in particular chain wear.  We decided that if we were going to supply a chain wear measuring instrument it would have to be a tool which an engineer would want to have in his tool box.  It would have to be, first and foremost, accurate but also simple to use and be able to give a reading of precise percentage elongation – it would have to be a professional instrument and not a free promotional item.

We started to develop the idea of a device that measured elongation over a specific number of rivet pins as determined by the pitch of the chain.  Operating in a similar fashion to a vernier slide rule – if you’re too young to have used one try googling it! - the device then measures the actual length of the chain, makes a comparison to the chain’s nominal pitch length and calculates the percentage chain wear.  It works equally well on all pitch sizes from 3/8inch to 3 inch. We produced the first prototypes using cardboard, Blue Peter style, and with a few modifications to the design we had a device that would not only calculate the wear but also measure it and the FB Chain wear gauge was born. A little more work added the ability to measure the chain pitch and a calibration window so you could check the gauge was in tolerance.  The device was unique in its ability to measure elongation accurately and with confidence.

The FB Chain Professional Chain Wear Gauge was patented and soon became the industry standard being used extensively by maintenance engineers and insurance inspectors.  It’s not a giveaway item but, for a reasonable price, it adds a professional instrument to the armoury of the engineer who understands the importance of recognizing, precisely, the amount of chain wear in a safety critical lifting chain.