What Is a Roller Chain and When Do You Need It?

May 14, 2020 Dave Kortkamp

Oftentimes when customers are retrofitting existing cable management systems or purchasing completely new equipment, they ask me, “What chain will last the longest on my crane?” The answer is simple – rol e-chain® (pictured above). Commonly referred to as the roller chain, igus’® roller chain product lines were created with years of maintenance-free, reliable service in mind. It just so happens that STS, RTG, RMG and ASC applications check many of the boxes this chain was designed to thrive in:

  • 24/7/365 operation
  • Harsh environmental conditions, such as drastic seasonal temperature swings, constant UV exposure, constant exposure to air/sea spray, severe tropical weather, dirt & debris buildup, etc.
  • High operational speeds
  • Heavy fill weights
  • Extended life expectancy

When you combine all the factors above and add in a long travel application where the energy chain glides on itself, a standard polymer chain would wear quite quickly. Our rol e-chains® take an excellent link design found in our standard product line and adds an integrated roller. The addition of roller links eliminates the plastic on plastic sliding motion between the upper and lower run of energy chain, converting the gliding into a smooth rolling motion. Frictional forces are reduced by approximately 75% – greatly increasing the service life of the system.

It’s quite an impressive moment during a rol e-chain® installation when a single person can grab onto the moving end of a loaded energy chain and pull it down the guide trough system by hand. Take the P4.1 roller chain, pictured left, for example. This cable carrier was installed on an STS crane and pulled by hand to its connection point at the trolley. Not bad for a chain and cable package weighing 15.5 lbs. per foot! Not only does this translate to longer chain life expectancy, but less wear and tear on the components controlling trolley motion.

So, after hearing all of this you’re probably thinking, “Sounds nice, but how often do I need to replace the rollers?” NEVER. They are designed to outlive the life of the chain. We have never had to replace a roller that has worn out. The rollers feature a stainless sealed bearing lubricated with marine grade grease. Depending on fill package weight, travel distance, speed and other environmental factors, rol e-chains® can last anywhere from 15,000-30,000 trolley hours and beyond for container crane applications.  

Want to discuss how your operation could benefit by converting from festoons or other polymer cable carriers to a rol e-chain solution? Connect with the Industry Manager of Port, Intermodal and Container Handling applications today. If you would like to know more about how igus® rol e-chains® can reduce maintenance costs and increase crane operability, please reach out to me today to schedule a visit. To learn more about all of igus® cable management for container handling cranes, please visit our website: www.igus.com/cranes, or feel free to email me directly at dkortkamp@igus.net.

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