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5 Ways to Get Optimum Performance from Wire Ropes

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  • Post published:June 14, 2022
  • Post category:Tips

Wire ropes are an expensive and important investment, essential for many different industries. Without them, the entire worksite can experience an expensive and inconvenient pause, putting workers out of work and extending the job’s timeframe exponentially.

Wire ropes may look simple, but they are extremely complex mechanical devices responsible for assisting in the moving, loading, pulling, and supporting of machinery and equipment in the rigging, marine and lifting industries. Wire ropes have many different components including a steel or fibre core and wires made up of many strands of rope. The different strands work together to provide resistance to abrasion and inhibit the ability to withstand a high load capacity. One of the most important factors that can contribute to a long and strong life for your wire ropes is effective regular lubrication. 

Lubrication occurs during the initial manufacturing phase of the wire rope, with every strand being coated in a specially designed grease to ensure effective and durable movement. This lubrication can prevent corrosion, reduce friction, and promote strength, extending the service life immensely. Proper lubrication during the manufacturing stage will ensure that the individual wires in the strands may move and adjust as the rope moves and bends over time. However, it is impossible to lubricate the wire rope effectively enough that it will need no further lubrication over its service life. This is what makes periodic cable greasing non-negotiable. 

WIRE ROPE DESIGN

A close-up of 3 wire ropes

Wire ropes can be considered machines, with up to 300 individual wires moving independently to aid in an efficient movement of the rope over drums, sheaves, spools, or winches. Ensuring the wire rope is lubricated or greased both internally and externally can reduce friction and optimise the performance, preventing fatigue over time. Both un-galvanised and galvanised wire ropes require cable grease to prevent corrosion, as the zinc of a galvanised rope will sacrifice itself to protect the steel, making the wires susceptible to corrosion. 

Wire ropes that don’t experience regular re-lubrication will have a significantly reduced service life. One of the best methods to promote regular lubrication is to lubricate them while in service. This will limit the downtime of your machinery or equipment and free up your workers to focus on other tasks at hand.

In-service lubrication with high-quality wire rope lubricators, rope cleaner, the right type of lubricant for your industry, and regular visual inspections can increase the lifespan of your wire rope by up to 300%. This can save you thousands of dollars and a huge amount of manpower as your wire ropes don’t require replacing as often, keeping your worksite operational. Automatic wire rope lubricators can reduce the manpower needed for manual lubrication by up to 90%. 

5 Ways You Can extend the life of your wire ropes:

Viper WRL lubricating a wire rope

1. Lubricate regularly with the right lubricant

The wire rope lubricant you select should be light bodied enough to penetrate towards the core of the rope, yet tacky enough to adhere to the surface of the rope. The lubricant should be applied with an automatic lubricator close to where the rope is bending, such as near the sheave, as the strands of the rope are more easily spread in this region. A proper lubricant should reduce friction, protect against corrosion, and adhere to every wire. The lubricant should be appropriate for your industry such as pliable and unlikely to separate during cold weather for the shipping industry, and unlikely to drip for the mining industry. 

2. Conduct visual inspections 

Wire ropes should be subject to visual inspections during their service life, no matter the type of industry or job your wire rope performs. These inspections should be completed by a trained, competent team member who knows what to look out for including frays, splits, debris build-up and damage. It is integral that the wire rope is removed from service the moment any damage is detected to keep personnel safe and equipment functional. 

3. Store your wire ropes correctly 

While wire ropes don’t typically have a defined shelf life, the rope must be stored and maintained during storage to prevent deterioration. This can include storing the rope high off the ground in a well-ventilated space and maintaining a good level of lubrication during periods without use. The lubricant may migrate to the bottom of the reel and dry out during storage, which can be solved with a simple rotation of the wheels plus visual inspections and relubrications over time. Before you bring your wire rope back into the fold, check for any signs of damage or dryness and use them on a ‘first in first out’ basis to minimise the overall time spent without use. 

4. Clean the wire rope thoroughly

Across daily operations, the wire rope may become covered in dirt, rock, salt, dust, or other worksite debris. Without addressing this build-up of foreign material, the lubricant of your wire rope will not be able to penetrate effectively into the rope. A wire rope cleaner can remove dirt and old grease from the rope before it passes through the automatic lubricator to ensure the correct level of penetration. This penetration is essential to promote a long and effective service life. 

5. Invest in the Viper WRL MKII Series 

The length and effectiveness of your rope’s service life will be directly proportionate to the lubrication method you use and the amount of lubricant that is allowed to reach the rope’s many moving parts. In using an automatic wire rope lubricator, you will be giving your wire ropes the best chance at a long and effective life in even the toughest conditions. The Viper WRL can ensure that every gram of lubricant goes on your rope, not leaving a single drop to chance. This will keep your worksite and your workers clean while lowering wastage and allowing for safe application. With the lubricator active without the need for direct personnel contact, keeping your wire ropes lubricated has never been simpler, safer, or more effective. 

Viper WRL Mid
Viper WRL Mid MKII

To discuss our wire rope lubricators, wire rope cleaners or range of lubricants, get in touch with our team today.