Replacing top drive service loops with modular cable carriers

Top drive systems have become the standard in drilling rigs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved further. Many top drive systems lack a heavy-duty cable management solution, instead relying on service loops prone to breakage in the harsh conditions often found on drilling rigs. e-loop® cable carriers from igus® offer a solution to this problem, being able to withstand these harsh conditions and resist damage or breakage, and make the replacement of individual cables a quick and easy process. 

Disadvantages of service loops

While top drive systems are a significant improvement over kelly drives, there’s still plenty of room for further improvement. Many top drive systems rely on service loops, where cables loaded into a hose freely hang from a single secured point. The hose is free to swing around, particularly in windy conditions, and can get tangled up in the lighting system or mast of the rig, leading to potential breakage. In potted service loops when an electrical lead fails the entire assembly then needs to be replaced, since the cables are molded directly to the hose. This leads to long periods of downtime which can cost companies up to $250k an hour. An e-loop cable carrier used as an alternative to a service loop for offshore drilling The e-loop cable carrier from igus offers solutions to all of these problems. Cables are able to be individually loaded into and removed from the carrier from the outside, eliminating the need to replace the entire system if a cable breaks. Individual links of the carrier can even be replaced thanks to its modular design. However, damage to the links is unlikely thanks to extensive testing and external protectors made of polyurethane to absorb harsh impacts. This testing also established that weather-related influences have no effect on the functionality of the e-loop, making them perfect for outdoor applications.

A pre-assembled alternative to service loops 

Utilizing e-loop can save time and money when it comes to cable installation and replacements, but there’s an even easier solution provided by igus. The readychain product line is a combination of our cable carriers and cables, provided in a pre-assembled package ready for installation. Custom solutions are available for more complex applications, while still remaining quick and easy to install – harnessing times can be reduced as much as 95 percent! Best of all, the same service life guarantees made for igus cables and cable carriers separately also apply to readychain, so you can be sure you’re getting a reliable, long-lasting product.

Orange Services

While the e-loop can solve many of the common issues surrounding service loops, replacing entire systems is obviously no simple task. Thankfully, Orange Services from igus can handle much of the legwork for you. Certified technicians can visit you on location and assist with installation and maintenance of e-loop systems, and inspect your application to ensure you’re getting the maximum possible service life from your e-loop. Best of all, an igus trainer can educate your team or other 3rd party contractors about the product, including maintenance and system design to ensure you have the knowledge you need to properly work with, assemble and install igus cable carrier components. 

Maybe you have a particularly difficult application in mind, whether because of extreme weather conditions, particular system specifications or perhaps a desire to integrate robotics or industry 4.0 technology. In any of these cases, Orange Services can work directly with you to design a solution that rises to the challenge and meets (or even exceeds!) your expectations. To learn more about how igus Orange Services can assist you, check out our brochure.


When it comes to top drive systems, the ideal cable management solution is the e-loop from igus. Not only can you improve performance and service life compared to service loops, but e-loops are faster and easier to install, especially in the case of pre-assembled readychain. If you want to learn more about application examples and technical data of e-loop cable carriers, download the free white paper today, take a look at our e-loop product brochure, or contact an igus expert.

Jared Worth