How Long Will My Cable Management System Last?

May 1, 2020 Stephen Bowman

One question I routinely get asked is how long will my cable management system last? 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? Try 230 years under certain circumstances. 

As an example, we recently performed a service life calculation for a tripper car application in a coal facility with a travel distance of 300 feet. Our service life calculator (more on that later) produced 50,293 miles of overall travel before the system would need to be replaced. The customer had an expectation of 25 years of service life. Based on the customer’s application data, the number of cycles per day, and the average travel distance per cycle, our solution was expected to last well past their expectations by a factor of 9.5. That translates to 237 years of service life.

Read on to learn more about the tools, data and configurations we use to guarantee the longest life possible for your cable management system

Service Life Calculator 

The life of an igus® energy chain system depends on many variables. Cable selection, bend radius, speeds, accelerations, travel distance, fill weight, particulates, high and low temperatures, mechanical vibrations, etc. It all seems very complicated with many application questions that need to get answered. It is one reason why we ask so many, sometimes annoying , questions about your application. But rest at ease, we have the tools and test data to answer your question confidently and with a guarantee.

We use our online service life calculator which employs millions of test data points combined with real world field test results to determine just how long your igus® energy chain system will last. We start by inputting the relevant data specific to your application. This is where all those annoying questions originate. Our service life calculator takes your data and computes a result measured in double stroke cycles and miles of overall travel. Double stroke results are measured in hundreds of thousands to millions of double stroke cycles. Miles of overall travel are measured in thousands of miles.

Meticulous Design Considerations

When designing igus® energy chain systems, there are frequently space restrictions in either width or height of available installation clearance. We have options with cable variations and energy chain configurations to fit most space restrictions. One example is selecting the proper cable with a small enough bend radius to fit in the available height. We can also divide the cable package into two energy chains running in an opposed configuration, one in either direction, to allow for a minimal width restriction while maintaining the right amount of space between each cable. Selecting a cable with the appropriate bend radius and allowing enough space between all the cables increases the service life of the system.

Another consideration is the total fill weight of the cable and hose package measured in pounds per foot. Higher fill weights result in increased friction between the upper run and lower run of the energy chain in a long travel gliding configuration. More friction means lower service life. We also have options for heavy fill weights. One solution is to utilize our rol e-chain or roller chain (pictured left). This specialized component incorporates integral roller wheels into the side links of the energy chain. The plastic on plastic sliding motion between the upper run and the lower run of the energy chain is converted into a rolling motion reducing the frictional forces. These frictional forces are reduced by approximately 75% greatly increasing the service life of the system. 

A major concern in the Bulk Handling and Mining industry is the abrasive and corrosive nature of the material they work with every day. These include coal, grain, taconite, limestone, fly ash, sand and gravel. An igus® energy chain is manufactured from glass reinforced nylon tribopolymers resistant to these common materials used in Bulk Handling and Mining applications. For our trough steel components, we offer options in stainless, galvanized, or aluminum. In applications exposed to large aggregates falling on to an igus® energy chain, we utilize a steel cover integral to our steel trough system. This prevents debris from interfering with the operation of the energy chain and increasing the service life of the system. 

Whether your application is in a coal facility or on a ship loader, we can confidently calculate just how long your igus® energy chain system will last.  Our goal is to design and deliver a solution that will exceed your service life expectations. If you would like to know more about service life calculations, you can contact me at sbowman@igus.com or visit www.igus.com/bulkhandling. And just like our design service, our service life calculation is free of cost!

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