Wire ropes are one of the most versatile lifting and rigging equipment. They are used in almost every application across many industries. You will see wire ropes on oil rigs, construction sites, manufacturing, and mining applications.

Given the heavy usage, wire ropes have to endure, it’s necessary to keep them in excellent condition. As a business owner or site manager, you will need to learn about: 

  • Different types of wire rope damage.
  • How to inspect wire rope damage. 
  • When to remove them from service.
  • How to care for them.

But first, let’s learn who should check the wire rope damage first.

1. Who Should Inspect Wire Rope Damage?

As a wire rope supplier, we often come across this question. And it’s a valid one. You can’t ask any of your workers to perform the inspection of wire rope damage types. 

You will need experienced, skilled, and certified personnel for this job. This is a critical point since your crew’s safety depends on it.

Here’s what you should remember.

Always ask a trained and skilled crew member to inspect the wire rope damage.

Have all your rigging and lifting equipment periodically checked, including wire ropes, by a certified inspector?

Adhere to the OSHA and ASME wire rope maintenance and usage guidelines.

Ask the operator to check the wire ropes once every day without fail.

2. When Should You Inspect Wire Rope Damage?

Most wire rope suppliers and manufacturers recommend inspecting wire rope damage as frequently as possible. However, the frequency of this inspection will depend on different factors, including the usage of wire ropes and the work environment.

But usually, there are three types of wire rope damage inspections.

A. Initial Inspection

This inspection is carried out when purchasing the equipment from your wire rope supplier or manufacturer. You should check the wire ropes for:

  • Missing or illegible identification tags.
  • Cracks or breaks in the components.
  • Excessive wear and tear.
  • Manufacturing or modification defects.

B. Daily Inspection

As the name suggests, you have to carry out this inspection daily. It is a recommended industry practice to check the wire ropes daily and before each use. This is a simple visual inspection of wire rope damage types. You should check for damages like abrasions, chemical burns, heat damage, discoloration, and damaged threading, among others.

C. Periodic Inspection

The third equipment inspection is the periodic inspection, which gets carried out annually under normal working conditions. However, if you use wire ropes in harsh work environments, you will need to inspect them quarterly or monthly, depending on the usage.

According to ASME:

  • A yearly inspection is valid only for everyday use.
  • Monthly or quarterly inspection is for severe work conditions or usage.
  • A customized inspection schedule (as recommended by a qualified person) is for special services.

3. Understanding the Types of Wire Rope Damage

Wire ropes face different types of damage. You have to have a thorough knowledge of inspection of wire rope damage types. Only then can you ensure the safety of your crew and the load. The most common wire rope damages include:

  • Abrasion
  • Bird caging
  • Broken wires
  • Corrosion
  • Damaged end attachments
  • Doglegs
  • Electric arc
  • Fatigue fracture
  • Heat damage
  • Kinks
  • Localized conditions
  • Peening
  • Protruding core
  • Reduction in rope diameter
  • Rope stretch
  • Scrubbing

4. How Do You Inspect Wire Rope Damage?

You will need to be very careful when you perform the inspection of wire rope damage types. Visual inspection is the most common, and it involves a few simple tests or techniques that will help you identify the damage accurately.

Let’s learn about the four most common visual wire rope damage inspections.

A. Visual Inspection for Distortion

Steel wire rope distortion is visible in most cases. Shocking load (when released or applied suddenly) is the reason behind this wire rope damage. The distortion is of the following types.

  • Bird-caging
  • Core rope displacement
  • Kinking
  • Localized Swelling or constriction
  • Wave distortion

B. Cloth Rag Testing

This is one of the most common types of wire rope damage inspections. It helps you identify broken wires. You will have to pull a thick rag along the rope. Broken wires will cause the rag to snag. Stop and assess the potential damage when the rag gets snagged.

C. Wire Rope Diameter Check

This is another simple yet very useful inspection technique. Excessive abrasion, loss of core mass, corrosion, or inner wire failure can cause the wire rope diameter to shrink. You will need to measure the rope at three different points at least five feet apart. Take the average of these three measurements. If the diameter is reduced ? or more, replace the wire rope immediately.

D. Visual Check for Corrosion, Abrasion, and Pitting

This is also a simple visual wire rope damage inspection. It helps you identify external corrosion, abrasion, and pitting, among other damages. When this damage becomes visible, it’s usually progressed more than the visible signs. In other words, you will need to replace the wire rope immediately.

5. Understanding Wire Rope Maintenance

Now that you have understood different types of wire rope damage, let’s learn how to prevent them. Proper care and maintenance can help you significantly increase the lifespan of your wire ropes. Here’s what you will need to do.

A. Cleaning

Steel wire ropes often get exposed to dirt, grime, and other contaminants. Cleaning them with a wire brush and petroleum-based cleaning agent can help extend their lifespan. Clean your wire ropes regularly say twice every month.

B. Lubrication

Periodical lubrication helps prevent internal corrosion. You will need to use a pressure lubricator suggested by your wire rope supplier or manufacturer. Pressure lubricators clean the rope before they grease it. This helps increase the level of protection against corrosion.

C. Storage

Proper storage can help prolong the lifespan of wire ropes. Always store them in a clean, cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. This prevents corrosion and pitting. Also, keep them away from water, dust, or chemical fumes.

D. Reeling

Improper reeling can cause the wire-rope strands to spread or get flattened. You will need to ensure proper reeling to prevent this damage. Keep the drum surface clean, smooth, and dry before reeling starts.

In Conclusion

Wire ropes are a critical component in almost every rigging and lifting application. Although durable, wire ropes often get exposed to harsh weather elements, causing them to deteriorate faster than expected. Understanding different types of wire rope damage can help you prevent them before it’s too late. These tips will help you identify and prevent the most common wire rope damage.

Do you still have questions? Elite Sales can help you. We are a leading industrial hardware supplier with warehouses in Miami, Tampa, Houston, and Dyer. Contact us to know how we can help!