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Top Tips for Lubricating Your Wire Rope (and why it’s important)

Wire rope is an integral part of many different machines, performing essential tasks – day in, day out. Its unique design consists of multiple steel wires that form individual strands laid in a helical pattern around a core. This structure provides strength, flexibility, and the ability to handle bending stresses., and the designs can differ to suit each operation. The core of wire ropes can be made from steel, rope or Synthetic, and are identifiable by several parameters including the size, grade of material, perforation and the number of strands. No matter what type of wire rope your machinery or structure needs, there is a guarantee that it will need consistent lubrication to keep the core and therefore the wire strands in top notch condition, guaranteeing safe and effective operation.  

Generally, the two main benefits of lubricating wire ropes include a lower friction point and endurance during daily use, especially in open weather. Wire ropes have a range of different functions and applications, from providing support for buildings and bridges, to hauling heavy materials and operating equipment. Some uses require more lubrication than others, such as those used in crane services or to haul during construction, as they are subject to a lot of friction and surface wear. Ropes subjected to a great amount of tension tend to fail from the inside due to Internal corrosion,

External corrosion, excessive strain, Fatigue from bending and External wear of strands as they contact the sheaves or drum. Wire ropes without a fibre core in place need to be coated with lubricant during the manufacturing process to lessen the internal friction, minimising corrosion, and weather wear. 

As a wire rope user, there are several things you can do to ensure a long, safe and well-functioning life for your ropes, including:

Understanding the risk factors to your rope 

Lubrication is applied during the manufacturing process and penetrates all the way to the core. Wire rope lubrication has two primary benefits:

  1. Reduces friction as the individual wires and strands move over each other
  2. Provides corrosion protection and lubrication in the core, inside wires, and outside surface. 

So why do they need to be lubricated again? Over time the lubrication of wire ropes will wear off from stretching, bending, and weather conditions. A lubrication maintenance program will increase the lifespan of your wire ropes and minimise worksite risks. 

The main factors that impact lubrication include:

  • Corrosion 
  • Fumes, humidity, wet weather, and heat can cause damage and increased metal loss to the strands of your wire ropes. This will cause the rope to corrode from the inside out, putting the materials and the users in danger. Lubrication prevents this natural process and keeps corrosion at bay.
  • Wear & Tear
  • Wire ropes are used for a wide range of purposes, majority of them being heavy-duty and usually high stakes. Start/stop motion, heavy lifting and general all-day use, when properly cleaned and lubricated this will greatly increase these ropes operational use and minimise risks. 
  • Human Error
  • Typically, only coats the outer wires
  • Lack of penetration to inner sections of rope – internal corrosion/Excessive friction occurs.
  • No water displacement from rope internals
  • Inconsistent application leads to ineffective lubrication = reduced rope life

Know the signs of poor lubrication 

If you haven’t been using an established lubrication maintenance program on your wire ropes, it is important to check the lubrication status by visually inspecting the ropes during the scheduled inspections. You should experience some residue in the form of a visible and slippery film of oil to indicate adequate lubrication. If there is no film, your wire ropes require immediate and thorough lubrication. If the film is visible but the residue isn’t oily, the ropes need to be cleaned and lubricated as soon as possible. 

Invest in a proper lubrication technique 

It’s important to use a lubricant that has been designed for your type of wire rope or specific application. The correct lubricant can extend the lifespan of your ropes by years, just as a lack of lubricant can cut the function and durability of your ropes in half. 

Our Viper MKII Wire Rope Lubricators are the most efficient and effective way to keep your ropes lubricated. With the Viper WRL MKII, your wire ropes will be safeguarded in the best possible way with no downtime along with the reduced mess and a safer process. This will decrease risk, time, money and manpower.

Search our range or get in contact today to give yourself peace of mind, knowing your wire ropes are receiving the best care possible.