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Tests Show Plastic Cable Carriers Can Cut Energy Consumption in Equipment

Igus Inc., East Providence, R.I., says recent tests show that plastic cable carriers can increase the energy efficiency of equipment that uses them.

According to an Igus spokesperson, those kinds of machinery include scissor lifts, boom lifts, RTG/RGM cranes, STS cranes, BOP cranes, gantry systems, pipe-handling systems, and offshore applications.

Cable carrier systems transport energy and data through moving machines. One important consideration in their design and use is the amount of force needed to move the cable carrier. A second is the stability and weight of the cable-carrier system, to ensure it consumes the least amount of energy possible. Igus says that combining its cable carriers and continuous-flex cables can reduce the required drive power, energy consumption, and costs for environmentally conscious applications.

According to Igus, recent tests and sample calculations performed at its test laboratory prove energy consumption can be drastically reduced by combining the right cable carrier material with a sophisticated design. If Rol-E-Chain—a specially designed cable carrier with built-in wheels that rolls insteads of glides to facilitate travel over long distances—is used, the friction factor is drastically reduced from 0.3 to less than 0.1. This correlates to a 37-percent reduction in drive power, compared to a traditional gliding application, as well as a significant decrease in overall costs. In addition, plastic carriers are lightweight and require no lubrication.

Chainflex continuous-flex cables can also reduce energy consumption. Igus tests show that using high-performance sheathing and insulating materials, depending on the combination of cross sections and number of cables used, can reduce energy use by five and 30 percent.

In addition, picking the right sheathing can also reduce abrasion. High-quality sheathing materials can be extruded with an extremely thin wall, which saves up to 18 percent in weight compared to conventional cables. These two factors can reduce the drive power required.

High-grade insulating materials can achieve higher currents with the same electric cross-sections, which means the cross-sections can often be reduced without compromising the electrical performance. This enables weight reductions of up to 30 percent.

According Igus, there is basically no difference between energy consumption in machine engineering (including costs for power electronics) and the automobile industry. In the same way that a driver can reduce fuel costs by about 60 percent by using different tires or fuel, using a different design cable carrier can also lead to significant technical and cost advantages.


Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.