Industrial wire ropes are designed for extreme resilience and strength. They can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure and be used on all types of applications. However, issues with the wire rope installation process can significantly decrease its longevity and even its capacity and durability.
When wire ropes are not used properly, it can create an unsafe environment. The rope can snap, even if the load it’s supporting is below its maximum load limit. In a recent incident noted by the IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association), a wire rope sling rope broke due to improper installation. A crew member was seriously injured after the sling disconnected and hit the worker.
Many of these common accidents are easily avoidable through correct wire rope installation. Here are five of the most common mistakes made and how to prevent them on your worksite.
1. Incorrectly Measuring the Rope Diameter
Determining the diameter of the wire rope is an essential step of the installation process. Installers are required to double-check that the correct diameter rope is being used, as this impacts the rope’s breaking strength and load limit.
Wire ropes are measured with a parallel-jawed caliper (also called a machinist’s caliper). This is placed over the wire rope to measure the diameter – but if the rope is inserted at the wrong angle, you will get an inaccurate result.
The strands of a wire rope must be flush against the measuring portion of the caliper. If a raised strand is at the top, the measurement will have a smaller dimension, which could affect breaking strength calculations.
Source – Example photo
2. Unreeling the Wire Rope Wrong
Wire ropes are reeled onto these spools for easy handling and shipments, as it prevents the rope from getting tangled or crushed. But unreeling the wire rope incorrectly can cause severe damage, such as snagged wires, twists, kinks, or unraveled strands.
A common mistake that is often made is to unreel the wire rope by laying the spool vertically on its axis. The wire rope has to be yanked off of the spool, which increases the likelihood of it getting kinked or twisted. The wire rope should also not touch the ground as it is unreeled, as this could damage the wires as well.
Instead, the reeled wire rope should be placed on a shaft that allows the spool to turn 360°. It also should require two people, one to slowly pull the rope off of the spool in a straight line and another to regulate the speed by controlling the turn rate.
Source – Example photo
3. Poorly Installing Wire Clips
Occasionally a drop forged clip is added during wire rope installation to create a load-bearing eye or to connect two cables together. These small but mighty pieces only diminish a wire rope’s strength by around 10%, if they are added correctly.
Many mistakes are made when installing wire rope clips, such as:
- Using fewer clips than recommended by the manufacturer
- Incorrectly spacing the clips
- Placing the saddle on the wrong end of the wire rope
- Using the wrong size of wire clip
- Not tightening the clips enough
These little issues can cause the wire rope to slip out of the clip. It is very important to follow the directions and use the right number of clips with the correct spacing in-between, depending on the rope’s diameter and approximate load weight.
4. Cutting the Wire Rope the Wrong Way
Sometimes a damaged wire rope can be repaired through a method called seizing. First, the rope is cut at a straight angle, then a wire is tightly wound around this end to prevent the strands from unraveling.
Two methods can be used to securely seize a wire rope. First, it can be placed at a right angle between the starting and ending point of the seizing. The wire is then wrapped around this angled piece to hold it in place, and the ends are twisted together to secure it. Another option is to wrap the seizing wire around and twist the two end pieces together, creating a tourniquet type of attachment.
The type of end preparations recommended depends on several factors. This includes the diameter of the rope and the number of wires and strands. In some cases, double seizing and fuse welding is required for additional securement. Failing to follow these instructions could result in the core or strands of the wire rope to slip and unravel.
5. Not Storing Your Wire Rope Safely
Although wire ropes are usually damaged due to improper use, they can get ruined during storage as well. Failing to follow through with routine maintenance and storage recommendations could cause the wire rope to rust, unravel, or kink. Further, keeping your wire rope on the ground, in wet areas, or directly in hot sunlight can cause it to break down faster.
Maintaining industrial hardware the right way can improve their long-term performance and use. This includes following all instructions during wire rope installation, as well as storage and upkeep. Wire ropes should be cleaned before going into storage and may need lubricant from time to time to protect the wires from drying out.
Over to You
Wire ropes are intended to be a strong, reliable piece of industrial hardware. There is no reason to compromise its durability due to simple installation mistakes. By avoiding these common mishaps, you can ensure a far safer work environment and also extend the use of your wire ropes.
Another tip is to start by purchasing top-quality hardware from a trusted wire rope supplier. Elite Sales is proud to carry a vast selection of wire rope sizes, styles, and finishes that are made to fit many applications.
Contact our sales team today to learn more about our selection and place an order for your next wire rope.