Wire rope can go through a lot of abuse. These ropes are used for numerous types of applications, from overhead rigging to tie-downs, and they are constantly under a lot of friction and pressure.
If a wire rope is even slightly damaged, it could lead to disaster. Every year, more than 10% of fatal occupational injuries are caused by accidents related to wire ropes snapping and dropping heavy materials.
To reduce this risk of lost and damaged materials, injury, or even death, it is important to take exceptional care of wire ropes. Ensuring that these critical pieces of industrial hardware equipment are in tip-top shape can also help to lower material costs. Additionally, it can save your team a lot of time spent repairing and replacing broken wire ropes.
Our team at Elite Sales has been working in the industrial hardware supply industry for many years. We know a thing or two about keeping wire ropes in good shape.
Here are some of the best tips we’ve found to extend the life of this important piece of equipment.
1.Store Them Correctly
It is not only the heavy workloads and movement that wear down a wire rope – it is also the way that it is handled and stored. Wire ropes can be damaged by exposure to extreme temperatures and even small amounts of water or humidity.
You should always wipe down wire ropes before putting them away to make sure that they are completely dried. It is best to keep them in a temperature-controlled space, especially during the winter. Extreme cold temperatures can make the metal more brittle and prone to breaking.
If you will be leaving wire ropes outside or if they will be exposed to any water, it is highly recommended that you use either stainless-steel or galvanized wire ropes. Electro or hot dip galvanized and stainless-steel wire ropes are naturally rust-resistant. However, it is still recommended that you keep wire ropes as dry as possible to prevent any issues.
Finally, do not store wire ropes on the ground, as this can cause scratches and snags on the wires. If you are using galvanized wire ropes, the ground could chip away at the zinc coating, leaving the alloy steel exposed. It is best to keep wire ropes on cement or metal surfaces to prevent termite damage, dust, or other damaging conditions.
2. Protect Your Ropes During Transport
There are some things you can do before, during, and after wire rope transport that will help to prevent wear and damage. Be sure to ask your wire rope supplier questions about the designs and options before you buy, such as:
- The rope’s grade rating (improved plow steel, extra improved plow steel)
- Diameter and number of strands
- Construction style (plastic coated, swaged wire, compacted strand, rotation resistant)
- Type of core (wire standard, fiber, independent wire rope)
These factors can make a difference in when and how you will use the ropes for specific purposes. For instance, it may be best to opt for a rotation resistant wire rope for overhead lifting to reduce twisting – which can wear the wire strands down.
Wire ropes should be cleaned and lubricated regularly, especially after extreme weight loads or dry, hot temperatures. The strands can be cleaned with steam or compressed air that removes debris. Then, a layer of mineral oil or petrolatum-based lubricant should be applied. This will help to reduce friction and create a protective layer over the wire rope strands.
3.Conduct Regular Detailed Inspections
You can extend the life of a wire rope dramatically by carefully inspecting it regularly to catch signs of wear that can be fixed. Inspections should only be conducted by trained workers who know what to look for. Special attention should also be given to specific spots on the rope, such as points of attachment.
OSHA does require a visual inspection of wire ropes before use to identify issues such as:
- Crushed wires
- Broken or unwound strands
- Core failure or core protrusion
- Cracked, bent, or worn ends
- Corrosion or rust
If there are only small issues, such as a broken strand or frayed end, they may be fixable if they are caught early enough. The worn-down portion can be wrapped in a new wire to create a seized end. This wrap should then be fused to create a strong seal and prevent future damage to that point of the rope.
4.Teach and Enforce Proper Handling
Although wire ropes are not the most technical piece of equipment on construction sites, it still requires specialized training to handle and maintain. All employees must be taught how to unload, store, and transport wire ropes properly to prevent excess wear and tear.
For instance, all handlers should know the proper procedure for coiling or winding the ropes. Wire ropes can easily snag or bend, so this task must be done carefully and correctly. Additionally, if a rope is wound too tightly, it can cause friction between each wrapped layer or even crush in the innermost coils.
Supervisors must be careful to enforce proper handling. Failing to properly inspect or use wire ropes could lead to damaged equipment and OSHA violations, as well as an extremely dangerous work environment. There is no excuse for shortcuts when it comes to handling these ropes!
Extending the life of your wire rope is not difficult, but it does require a bit of extra attention and maintenance. Ultimately, the best way to ensure that they do not wear down quickly is by purchasing highly-rated, top-quality wire ropes in the first place.
At Elite Sales, we offer the highest quality industrial hardware equipment available. If you are looking for a wire rope distributor you can trust, reach out to our team. We carry a wide variety of wire rope styles, sizes, and grades so you can find the exact type you need for the job at hand.