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Why You Need to Lubricate Your Wire Ropes

Wire ropes are a complex mechanical tool with many different factors influencing their strength and composition. The many moving parts of a wire rope combine to provide support and allow an object or heavy load to move or function safely and correctly. Commonly used in industries requiring lifting and rigging, wire ropes are attached to a crane and hoisted or fitted with swivels, shackles, or hooks to move a load reliably. The structure of a wire rope allows for strength, flexibility, and the ability to handle extreme stress. 

Wire ropes form an essential part of many machines and structures on all kinds of worksites. Comprised of continuous strands of wire wrapped around a central core, the strength of a wire rope allows for high strength support of extreme tensile forces along with the ability to run through extremely small sheaves. Wire ropes can experience stress from many factors including extreme and fluctuating forces, wear, corrosion, and rust. The life of a wire rope is not infinite. Regular wire rope maintenance and safety inspections along with proper wire rope lubrication are required to prevent dangerous breakages or detrimental frays over time. 

4 components of an effective wire rope:

  1. Wires made from metal to form a singular strand
  2. Multi-wire strands laid around a core in a helical pattern
  3. A fibre or steel core
  4. Effective lubrication

Important reasons to lubricate your wire rope

Viper WRL lubricating a wire rope

Specialty grease is applied during the manufacturing process and throughout the life of the wire rope to ensure corrosion protection, extend the life of the wire rope, reduce risk, improve safety, and reduce friction.

There are two types of good wire rope lubricantspenetrating and coating. A penetrating grease contains a petroleum solvent that travels to the core of the wire rope and then evaporates, leaving behind a heavy film to protect the strands of wire rope. Coating grease penetrates slightly to reduce wear and seal the outer surface from moisture. 

Grease to Increase the Life Cycle of Your Wire Rope

Despite the wire rope being lubricated during the manufacturing process, relubrication is required throughout the ropes service life due to the loss of the original lubricant from loading, bending, and stretching. Field lubrication is necessary to minimise corrosion, protect the ropes core and individual wires, and ultimately extend the life of the wire rope. If the wire rope has been contaminated over time with soot, dirt, debris and even salt air, it will require a deep cleaning before lubrication to ensure effectiveness.

Lubricants are best applied near the drum or sheave where the rope tends to separate due to bending. This will facilitate a maximum penetration towards the core. Abrasive wear occurs on both the inside and outside of the wires as daily use forces the strands to rub against one another. This can impact the rope’s diameter, leading to internal wire breakage.

Wire ropes typically fail From these 6 influencing factors:

  1. Internal corrosion 
  2. External corrosion 
  3. Fatigue from bending 
  4. External wear as the rope encounters the sheave or drum 
  5. Accidental damage 
  6. Excessive strain 

Most of these can be prevented or mitigated by maintaining a consistent lubrication routine. 

Wire Rope Lubricators vs Manural lubrication

As mentioned in our blog ‘why you shouldn’t lubricate wire ropes by hand‘, manual lubrication can be difficult.

The Drawbacks of Manual Lubrication

  • Time-consuming – the process of manually lubricating wire ropes can lead to increased equipment downtime and requires the physical effort of workers 
  • Messy – with more lubricant ending up on your workers and worksite than the wire ropes, there is excessive use of gloves, coveralls, rags, and the lubricant itself 
  • Ineffective – manual lubrication typically only coats the outside of the wire ropes, causing inconsistent lubrication leading to corrosion and no internal water displacement 
  • Dangerous – the height and location of wire ropes often make them difficult to access, placing workers in danger 

The benefits of a Wire Rope Lubricator include:

  • Greater operational rope life 
  • Improved safety 
  • Minimised risk 
  • Increased equipment productivity 

More about Lubricants

Lubricants for wire ropes require three main lubricating properties:

  1. Hydrodynamic/Full Film Lubrication 
  2. Extreme Pressure Additives 
  3. Solid Lubricant Suspended in Grease/Oil 

The combination of both an effective lubricant and an efficient lubricator system can provide noticeable cost savings to your budget. If your manual lubrication procedure takes 2 people across 2 days every 2 months, and the wire rope is only lasting 12 months, you will be saving both time and money with an lubricator system.

Viper WRL has the solution

The Viper WRL system requires only one person for 2 hours every 7 months and can make the wire ropes last for up to 6 months. Saving you major downtime and being safer for both the workers and the environment, you will quickly notice the difference that a Viper WRL system can make. 

The Viper wire rope lubricator provides a unique method of easy lubrication for your wire ropes utilising a high-pressure collar to deliver grease into the core of the rope. The Viper system can reduce labour intensiveness by up to 90%, and when used in conjunction with a high-quality coating grease such as our VCG-1 Coating Grease, your wire ropes can experience an increase in wire rope lifespan of up to 300%. 

The Viper WRL system can be used on practically any rope that requires lubrication or corrosion protection. The Viper WRL systems are unique in that they allow for single person operation, they have a larger contact area for your rope, they provide a perfect fit for varied rope sizes, are clean to operate and enable fast lubrication of the ropes with a high-volume grease pump. 

If you’re looking to improve the effectiveness of your wire ropes while lowering your equipment downtime, saving your budget and protecting your workers – get in touch with our team today. With our range of systems, lubricants, and wire rope cleaners, it has never been simpler to protect the asset of your wire ropes through proper and effective lubrication.