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Power supply in overhead cranes: energy chains vs. festoons

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tech talk Learn more at Power supply in overhead cranes: energy chains vs. festoons shock cords tow cables electrical cables festoon wheels To avoid the maintenance and costs that come with festoons, users are increasingly using an alternative electrification system—the energy chain. The high- performance plastic e-chain ® can take on demanding Reliable and dynamic cable management is one of the greatest challenges in modern crane technology. Virtually all modes of crane applications are facing intensifying requirements regarding travel distances, speeds and precision. In the international overhead crane market where various standards come into play, manufacturers and end-users seek electrification solutions that can be adapted to the respective scenario. While the components must be modular, they should also be consistently easy to install, low maintenance and cost-effective. Engineers often turn to two power supply variants to try and meet these demands: festoons and energy chains. Festoon systems are designed to provide direct electrification with flat or round cables. The cables in festoons are hung from trolleys that stack together at the end of the crane rail. While this structure provides defined linear guidance, it consumes space on the crane rail, limiting the amount of crane travel that can be accomplished in a given dimensional window. As the cables are essentially clamped in bunches, it makes replacement or addition of cables a time-consuming process. The festoon design also incorporates a variety of linked components, including wheels, tow cables, shock cords and bearings. Each individual part requires regular maintenance and lubrication, especially when exposed to rough operating environments. In festoon systems, cables and hoses hang loose while guided. Unprotected, the lines can swing, become tangled and get caught in the crane structure, especially during harsh weather, which leads to costly repairs. Often, festoons use flat composite cables consisting of multiple conductors in a single jacket. When these cables are used, the entire composite cable may need to be replaced if one conductor becomes damaged. For instance, ship to shore cranes are often found to be equipped with festoons. As this application environment is exposed to high winds, heavy rain, ice and other barriers, festoon users face high costs for repairs caused by wear and weather. This means further downtime wasted on maintenance and inspections. The hanging cables and steel-dominated structure of festoons also requires ample space for setup.

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