Wire rope is a collection of metal strands that have been twisted and wound to form the shape of a helix with the purpose of supporting and lifting heavy loads and performing tasks that are too rigorous for standard wire...
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Wire rope is constructed of multiple strands of wire that are twisted and braided together to form a spiral design or helix. Once the separate wires are shaped into a solid form, they become a single wire with greater strength because the individual wires equalize pressure and have greater flexibility than the individual strands.
To further enhance the strength of wire ropes, they are grouped and wound together to produce cables, which adds to their usefulness as a means of support, ability to lift, and give structural stability.
A key factor in wire rope is the lay of the strands, which can be regular or lang. With regular lay, or right and ordinary lay, the strands are wound from left to right with the wires laid in the opposite direction of the lay of the strands. With lang lay, the wires are wound in the same direction.
The structure and design of wire rope produces a final product that has superior strength, excellent strength flexibility, and the ability to handle constant bending stress as well as being weather resistant.
Wire rope is one of those products that has found a place in a wide variety of industries since it can be adapted and shaped to fit several applications. It can be found as a tow cable for boats and airplanes or in the movie industry as a harness for stunt artists. The varied uses of wire rope have made it an essential part of operations that require a rope with strength, endurance, and flexibility.
In the aerospace industry, wire ropes, or Bowden cables, connect pedals and levers in airplane cockpit to send power to aircraft systems to control the airplane. The things that are controlled by wire ropes are propeller pitch, cowl flaps, and throttle. Wire ropes on aircraft are insulated to avoid vibrations.
Wire rope is extensively used in the auto industry for a wide variety of applications due to its versatility and strength. It is used for raising windows and opening and closing sunroofs. Other uses include steering wheels, cables, exhausts, springs, sunroofs, doors, and seat components. In the manufacturing process, wire rope is used to hoist vehicles, move large body parts, and on hoists and cranes.
The construction industry has a greatest reliance on wire rope because of the need to lift and lower heavy loads. Wire rope used in construction must have extremely high strength and exceptional performance for safety reasons and efficiency. Larger versions of wire rope are used for suspension bridges and supporting concrete columns.
The main use of wire rope in food processing is for lifting, moving loads, and other heavy tasks. Finished products or raw materials require being moved in storage units and processing centers. The strength and endurance of wire rope makes it possible to move these materials. Wire rope for food processing must be able to withstand regular chemical cleaning.
As with other industries, the oil and gas industry needs strong and reliable equipment for moving heavy equipment. In ocean drilling, machinery is dropped into the ocean using wire rope to securely hold devices to be dropped to extreme depths. Wire ropes are designed to withstand the extreme pressure and stress required. A further use of wire ropes for drilling operations is to maintain stability in the drilling lines. One of the unique features of oil rig wire rope is its length, which can exceed 10,000 feet.
A very common use for wire rope is mooring and towing of sea and freshwater boats and vessels. In the shipbuilding industry, wire rope is used to secure lifeboats as well as lower them into the water. On sailboats, wire rope is used to lift and lower sails. The benefit of using wire rope is its resistance to corrosion and rust caused by salt water and ocean mist.
The skiing industry, much like heavy equipment industries, uses wire rope to hold cars, lifts, or chairs to transport skiers up the mountain. This type of wire rope comes in several varieties depending on the size of the mountain. The benefits of wire rope for skiing is its dependability, guaranteed safety, and reliability. The main challenge of wire rope for use in sports is the weather conditions it must endure.
Since the beginnings of amusement parks, wire rope has been an essential part of attraction construction. It is used to bring roller coaster cars to the top of the ride, hold swings, and pull various vehicles through attractions. One of the main concerns of public amusement parks is safety since rides are filled with powerful machinery designed to operate continuously.
Making the dangerous and exciting shots in movies requires well planned safety precautions. One of the aspects of that planning is wire rope that is designed to protect performers when they are engaged in dangerous and life threatening shots. Dependable wire ropes are ideal since they have the flexibility, strength, endurance, and versatility to be adapted to any conditions.
The types of wire rope are determined by the number of wires in each strand and how many are in the rope, which is defined by a two number system with the first number being the number of wires and the second being the number of wires in each strand. For example, a 6x19 wire rope has 6 wires in 19 strands.
The wire below is a 7x7 stainless steel wire rope of grade 302 stainless steel. As can be seen in the diagram, it has seven wires and seven strands.
There are a wide variety of products that are produced using wire rope. The demand for wire rope products is due to its strength, durability, and reliability. Since the basic purpose of wire rope is to lift and move heavy materials and items, the most common type of wire rope product is the wire rope sling.
Though the construction of wire rope slings is very similar for all types, there are certain variations applied to slings to adjust them to fit different applications. Slings are configured in various ways to fit different types of loads. These changes are referred to as hitches.
Vertical Hitch: A vertical hitch is where one eye of the wire rope is attached to the hook and the other eye is attached to the load.
Choker Hitch: In the choker configuration, one eye of the sling is attached to the lifting hook. The second eye is looped over the first sling eye to form a noose shape or choke. The load is placed in the choke loop.
Basket Hitch: The basket type hitch is formed when both eyes of the sling are looped over the lifting hook.
Bridle Hitch: The multiple leg or bridle hitch style has more than one wire rope sling attached to equalize the load.
Single Part Wire Rope Sling: The eye for a single part wire rope sling is formed by looping the wire rope back on to the rope. The end of the rope is attached by a clamp or being woven by hand or mechanically into the rope body. Single part wire rope slings use a single wire rope to produce the sling.
Braided Wire Rope Sling: A braided wire rope sling is made by braiding wire ropes to form a sling. The increased number of strands enhances the strength of the sling and its load capacity. Braiding can be done with three to nine wire ropes.
Cable Laid Wire Rope Sling: Cable laid wire rope slings are made from combining several smaller wire ropes to form a flexible, easy to handle, and kink resistant sling.
Woven Eye Wire Rope Sling: For the woven eye version of a wire rope sling, the eye is formed by weaving the wire rope into itself after forming the loop. It is designed to reduce the chance of the sling catching or being hung up when lifting.
Thimble Wire Rope Sling: To add to the strength of wire rope slings and lessen the stress on a small area of the eye, a thimble, a U shaped piece into which the wire rope fits, is placed in the eye, which helps the sling to retain its natural shape. The thimble is positioned to prevent the hook or load from coming in contact with the wire rope.
Coiled wire rope is made from bundles of small metal wires that are twisted into a coil. It comes in many varieties and is easy to store since it does not require a spool. Coiled wire rope is produced in coils. When it is not in use, it springs back into a coil, which makes it easy to handle.
Cable wire rope is a type of high strength rope, made of several individual filaments. These filaments are twisted into strands and helically wrapped around a core. One of the most common types of wire rope cable is steel cable.
Push pull wire rope assemblies are used to send force and are used in the aircraft, exercise, medical, automotive, and office equipment industries. Unlike using a single heavy wire, push pull assemblies made with wire rope are stiffer and have a larger bend radii for smoother motion of the wire.
Wire rope assemblies include wire rope and various parts and components that have been added to the wire rope to enhance its function. The connectors for a wire rope assembly are designed to connect the assembly to hooks, equipment, or machines as well as other wire rope assemblies. The central part of a wire rope assembly is the wire rope, which determines the type and kind of work the assembly can perform.
The uses of wire rope assemblies include:
Wire rope lanyards are a standard wire rope product that have a multitude of uses. They are produced using the same process that is used to produce wire rope with the same numbering categorizing system. Lanyards are used to hold fasteners, hardware, or components to prevent loss of an item or prevent injury.
As can be seen in the image below, lanyards come with a variety of connectors to specifically fit an application. Custom designed lanyards are designed for unusual and unique functions where a standard lanyard will not fit. The variety of connectors allows the lanyard to be easily connected.
When making the decision to purchase a lanyard, there are certain factors that need to be considered, which include:
In many ways, wire rope is a form of machine with multiple moving parts. Normally, when we think of a machine, we imagine a device with a motor, drives, and gears. Wire rope does not have any of those components but does fit the definition of being a complex mechanism. It has moving parts that work together to move heavy materials and loads.
The main function of wire rope is to do heavy lifting, which is very dependent on wire rope slings. The type of sling is determined by the quality of the wire rope used to form them and whether several ropes have been braided or wound together.
The parts of wire rope are wire, a core, strands, and lubricant.
Wire is the smallest part of wire rope but makes up the various strands. The composition of the wire can be steel, iron, stainless steel, copper, or other types of metal wires and are produced in different grades. The individual wires can be coated or bright, meaning uncoated.
Strands are sets of wires that are twisted together and are placed in a helical pattern around the core. The size of the wire determines its abrasive qualities with larger wires being more abrasive and less flexible than smaller ones.
The core is the center of the wire rope and serves as a support for the strands and helps the wire rope keep its position when it is under stress or bearing a load.
Lubrication is applied during the manufacturing process to reduce friction between the wires and strands as well as protection from corrosion and rust. The tight winding of the wires enhances the ability of the wire rope to retain the lubrication which is essential to its longevity.
Of all of the products that are made from wire rope, slings are the most common and widely used. These looped wire ropes come in different varieties and grades depending on the type of wire used. Also, to enhance wire sling performance, several wire ropes may be wound together to form a sturdier and more reliable sling.
For delivery for processing, wire rope is spooled. The production of wire rope slings begins with unspooling the wire rope.
The wire rope is measured to the proper length to form the sling.
There are several methods for forming a wire rope sling. The Flemish method of eye splicing involves separating the wire rope into two parts and connecting them with a compression sleeve.
Prior to placing the wire rope into the holding device used to shape the eye, a steel compression sleeve is placed on the rope, which will be used to secure and hold the eye.
To form the correct eye size, the rope is unwound to the number of lays required for the configuration of the eye.
Once the proper size is achieved, the unwound strands are rewound in the reverse order of their former positioning. If the wire rope has a right hand lay, it is rewound using a left hand lay. The opposite is true if the wire rope has a left hand lay, then it is rewound using a right hand lay. By using this technique, a friction mold is formed for the splicing of the sling.
The tails and stray wires of the wire rope have to be straightened and properly formed before applying the compression sleeve. Once the sleeve has been placed, it is carefully checked to be sure that it is accurately engaged.
Prior to placing the wire rope sling in the swaging die, the die has to be thoroughly lubricated. Once the die is set, the wire rope‘s compression sleeve and the wire rope are compressed using several hundred thousand pounds of force. The swaging process alters the dimensions of the wire rope and compression sleeve to form a tight connection for the correct diameter for the sling connection. As force is applied, the compression sleeve is turned so that pressure is evenly applied.
The final step in the wire rope sling manufacturing process is to test the sling to ensure that it is capable of handling its load specifications.
There are several types of metal wires that are used to produce wire rope, which include steel, stainless steel, galvanized, aluminum, nickel alloy, bronze, copper, and titanium. Carbon steel is the most common type of wire rope material.
Wire ropes are made using uncoated bright wire, which is high-carbon steel. The type of steel depends on the requirements of the wire and its tensile strength and its fatigue and wear resistance.
Galvanized wire rope is treated with zinc to prevent corrosion and can be used in harsh conditions and environments. It is a cost effective alternative to stainless steel but does not have the same corrosion resistance. Galvanized wire rope is stronger than stainless steel of the same grade and size. Vinyl coated galvanized wire rope is easy to handle and flexible.
Stainless steel wire rope is corrosion and rust resistant. It is available in types 316 and 304 with 316 having greater corrosion resistance. Stainless steel wire rope can be used for marine applications, acidic environments, and other demanding conditions. It is produced with the appropriate tolerances and composition to meet the needs of the application.
Multiple strands of copper are braided into a round hollow shape, which is pressed into the desired width and thickness. Copper wire rope has exceptional flexibility, an exceptional life span and can be used as part of electrical components.
Bronze wire rope inhibits sparking and is corrosion resistant. It is made from preformed wire to ensure that it maintains its shape and does not unravel when cut. Bronze wire rope is abrasion resistant and very flexible with a crush resistant core.
Inconel wire can be used in applications that reach temperatures as high as 2000° F and is oxidation and corrosion resistant. It is non-magnetic and has excellent resistance to chloride based corrosion cracking. Inconel wire rope can be used with nuclear generators and chemical and food processing.
Titanium wire rope comes in several grades with grade two being 99% pure. It is easily formable and weldable. Titanium wire rope is commonly used in chemical processing and marine hardware.
For wire rope to perform properly, it needs to have proper care. Wire rope is an essential tool necessary to perform a wire range of lifting and moving jobs. It is important that it be handled, treated, installed, stored, and treated correctly to prolong its life and perform to the highest standards.
Seizing should be completed on both ends of the wire rope, which will protect it from loosening. If this is done improperly, the wire rope can become distorted. Wire rope that is properly seized evenly distributes the load.
Wire rope is stored on reels or coils and has to be carefully handled when it is being removed. To ensure excellent performance, the wire rope should not be dropped during removal. If the reel or coil is dropped or damaged, it can make handling the wire rope difficult and cumbersome. As the wire rope is removed from the reel, check to see that the reel is rotating as the wire is removed.
Wire rope is depended on for heavy lifting and is trusted to keep a load and people safe. As with all heavy duty equipment, wire rope must have a regular inspection schedule and be visually assessed during use.
What to look for in visually assessment:
For wire rope to perform at the highest level, it has to be stored in a well ventilated environment that is dry, covered, and not in contact with the floor. The avoidance of high moisture or damp conditions is an absolute necessity. While the wire rope is in storage, it should be moved regularly to keep the lubricant from wearing off.
Though lubricant is applied during the manufacturing of wire rope, it wears off during use. Lubrication is the key to the performance of wire rope because it helps prevent abrasion as the wires rub against one another. Relubrication should be applied after the original lubricant has worn off.
Wire rope is a tool and must be cleaned regularly as with any form of machinery. This can be accomplished with different types of petroleum solvents and a wire brush. Mechanical methods of cleaning can include compressed air or a steam cleaner. Once the cleaning process is completed, the wire rope should be lubricated for protection.
There are several substances that can harm a wire rope. They include salt water, brine, acid, various gases, and humidity. To avoid the intrusion of these negative effects, when a job is completed and the wire rope is to be stored, it should be cleaned, lubricated, and placed in proper storage.
When wire rope is being removed from a spool or being spooled, the operation must be performed smoothly with the spool rotating at a constant speed and rhythm. This will help prevent kinking or binding.
When a wire rope shows a reduction in diameter, has broken wires, kinks, nodes, flattened surfaces, out of place outer wires, damage from heat exposure, corrosion damage, or the formation of unexpected loops, it should be removed and replaced or be repaired.
Wire rope is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of the regulations for cranes and derricks in construction as part of 29 CFR 1926.1413, which went into effect on November 8, 2010.
The inspection of wire ropes is on three levels: shift, monthly, and annually. Shift and monthly inspections can be completed by an approved operator, while annual inspection must be completed by certified personnel.
Shift inspections are completed at the beginning of every shift and is a visual inspection that looks for these factors.
Monthly inspections follow the same guidelines as shift inspections with the addition of:
As with the shift and monthly inspections, the annual inspection follows the guidelines for the shift inspection. This inspection must be completed by certified personnel. The entire surface of the wire rope has to be inspected, with attention to:
Annual inspections can be excused if it is not possible due to the wire ropes setup or configuration or the location of the work site. It must be completed within six months. If any deficiencies are found, the wire rope must be repaired or removed. For some deficiencies, it is possible to keep the wire rope in use but have them regularly monitored.
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