On a rope test certificates, specification, manual, etc., what do the standard abbreviations mean?
EN12385-2 Steel wire ropes – Safety – Definitions, designation and classification provides a detailed explanation of all the terms and abbreviations used when describing a wire rope and its components. Below are a few of the most common abbreviations;
Construction: example 6xK36WS
6 = the number of outer strands in the rope
36 = that there are 36 wires in each of the six outer strands
WS = the pattern (Warrington Seale) in which the 36 wires are arranged
K = Dyform/Compacted and confirms that the outer strands before being twisted around the core of the rope have been Dyformed.
Core: FC = Fibre Core, NFC = Natural Fibre Core, SFC = Synthetic Fibre Core, SPC = Solid Plastic Core
WSC = Wire Strand Core, IWRC = Independent Wire Rope Core, EPIWRC = Extruded Plastic IWRC
Rope grade: Commonly referred to as 1770, 1960 and 2160 grade although other grades are manufactured and supplied
Finnish: U = Un-galvanised/Bright, B = Drawn galvanised
Direction of lay/helical twist: S = Left hand direction, Z = Right hand direction
Rope lay: sZ = Right Hand Ordinary lay (RHOL), zS = Left Hand Ordinary Lay (LHOL)
sS = Left Hand Lang’s Lay (LHLL), zZ = Right Hand Lang’s Lay (RHLL)
Breaking strength: MBF = Guaranteed Minimum Breaking Force, often referred to as the catalogue breaking strength.
MBL = Guaranteed Minimum Breaking Load, often referred to as the catalogue breaking strength.
ABF = Actual Breaking Force, the maximum actual force a sample of the rope could sustain before breaking
ABL = Actual Breaking Load, the maximum actual load a sample of the rope could sustain before breaking
Why when they have ordered a 26mm diameter rope does it measure more than 27mm diameter?
Steel wire ropes are specified in terms of a Nominal Rope Diameter and when produced have a manufacturing diameter tolerance, this tolerance can vary depending upon customer requirements and specifications and is often dictated by the diameter of grooving within sheaves and drums in which the wire rope will be expected to operate. If no diameter tolerance is specified, the general diameter tolerance is, Nominal Diameter +0% to +5% as specified within various International Rope Standards (EN12385-4, API-9A, ISO 2408). However, please note other diameter tolerances may be applied to ‘small’ diameter ropes and ropes used for specific applications/industries e.g. Mining, Aerials, Elevators, etc.
What diameter of sheave or drum should be used?
When designing any rope operated equipment, designers should consider the relevant National and/or International Standards which refer to acceptable sheave and drum diameters based upon the application, industry, etc. The diameter of sheaves and drums together with the tension, are normally associated with overall service life of the rope and in ‘simple terms’ the larger the diameter the longer the service life, although consideration should also be given to the anticipated modes of rope deterioration which will also significantly affect the service life. Typically, the diameter of sheaves and drums for crane applications are 16 to 28 times the nominal rope diameter.
How should a wire rope be inspected during service?
Wire ropes are generally subjected to a visual examination and specifically for crane ropes these is an International Standard ISO 4309 “Cranes – Wire ropes – Care and maintenance, inspection and discard” which provides guidance on the inspection of wire ropes and provide the discard criteria. The document also includes information on the Magnetic testing of roper in service / Non-Destructive Examination and how this can assist the competent person in combination with his visual examination, determine the overall condition of the rope. All wire ropes should be inspected on a routine basis by a competent person to ensure that they remain is a good condition whilst in service and removed from service before they become dangerous. However, this standard is used for offering guidance for ropes operating in other systems where no specific discard criteria are given for that application, industry or country in which the rope is operating.
Please note, wire ropes can cause death and/or serious injury if not correctly handles, operated and maintained to good condition and care should always be taken when work with or close to wire ropes.
Are there any steps I should take before installing a new hoist rope?
It is advisable to measure any pulley wheels (grooves) in the system that the new rope is going to pass over (including deflector pulleys).
A new rope can easily be damaged if the pulley wheel groove is too tight, this will in effect pinch the rope probably causing a wave (spiral) deformity in your new rope.
If left unchecked in a steel pulley, parallel, linear fatigue wire breaks will be found where the contact pressures have become too high, due to a pinch affect.
The diameter of the new rope will be larger than the one to be removed. The old rope will have worn the groove material to the worn rope diameter.
We recommend a clearance of 10 to 12.5% above nominal rope size for steel pulleys and 15 to 20% for polyurethane or other types of lining inserts.
Ideally the pulley wheel groove should support 120 degrees or approximately 33% of the rope circumference.
Defector pulleys should contact the rope at 15% of the rope circumference.
When and why can a Lang’s lay rope be used?
The Lang’s construction, due to the wires running across the axis of the rope is the same direction as the strand, provides a greater length of wire on the exterior surface of the rope and hence since there is an increased surface area there is an increased area of steel to wear away before a broken wire occurs, therefore offering greater wear resistance. Therefore, applications where the rope is operating over larger number of support rollers and/or sheaves, the Lang’s lay rope may be of benefit.
The direction of the wires within the Lang’s lay construction also reduces the level of mechanical damage and rope interference, which takes place between adjacent wraps of rope within the crossover zones during multi-layer spooling of wire rope.
It is important to state that, single layer strand and parallel laid, rope constructions, manufactured in Lang’s lay, MUST NOT be used with one end free to rotate. Since the wires and the strands as twisted in the same direction, if the rope is free to rotate the wires and the strands will untwist tighter and seriously affect the integrity and breaking strength of the rope.
Should ropes be lubricated in service and if so, what type of lubricant should be used?
Wire ropes may be considered as machines, each with approximately 200 to 300 individual wires, which move independently to each over whenever ropes operate around sheaves or spool on or off winch drums, therefore ensuring ropes are lubricated internally will minimise the level of friction between the individual wires and optimise the ropes bend fatigue performance. Lubricant internally and externally will protect the ropes from corrosion and this applies equally to both un-galvanised/bright ropes and galvanised rope. Although the zinc on the surface of the individual wires of a galvanised rope will protect the wires from corrosion, once the zinc has sacrificed itself (oxidised) to protect the steel, the wires are then susceptible to corrosion. The longer the zinc can be protected by the lubricant the longer the zinc remains to offer protection to the steel. However there are applications where internal or external lubricant on the rope may not be advisable, anywhere the lubricant could drop off the rope and contaminate products (paper, food, etc.) in the vicinity of the rope or where the lubricant on the exterior of the rope may be contaminated with debris in the atmosphere (grit, sand, etc.). In this application, it must be accepted that ‘dry’ ropes will have a significantly reduced service life.
Ropes may be lubricated in-service with either oil or grease, both products offering slightly different benefits. Oils may be applied from a portable spray unit and although the ropes may require being re-lubricated more frequently, since it is relatively easy and cleaning to apply, operators are more likely to re-lubricate the ropes in service. The thin oil may penetrate the rope and surface coat the exterior of the rope with a thin film of lubricant, which also allows for relatively easy routine visual inspection of the rope. Alternatively, rope may be lubricated with a soft bearing type grease; the grease may be applied using a suitable pressure greasing system (Masto, Viper, etc.) to ensure uniform coating of grease along the total length of the rope passing through the greasing system, although the level and colour of grease may make visual inspection difficult. It is important that any oil or grease used to lubricate ropes in service is compatible with the lubricant applied to the rope during manufacturing and Bridon-Bekaert offer a range of wire rope lubricants specially formulated to be suitable for most environments and operations, including ECO VGP 2013 compliant (Bio-degradable, Non-toxic & Non-accumulative) products.
What is the maximum temperature a wire rope can operate?
For ropes operating above ambient temperature consideration must be given to the effects the operating temperature may have on the wire rope. For guidance, unless otherwise stated, the maximum operating temperatures are provided in the International Standards e.g. EN 12385-3. However searches of these standards by Bridon-Bekaert indicate that the quoted temperatures within the standards have remained constant for a significant period of time, having been developed when rope constructions and usage centred around common 6-stranded rope constructions. With the introduction of more complex rope constructions incorporating higher tensile grade wires, synthetic lubricants and polymers, Bridon-Bekaert’s experiences indicate that reconsideration of the maximum operating temperatures is required. For high performance ropes incorporating synthetic lubricants and polymers Bridon-Bekaert recommend a maximum operating temperature of 100 degrees C. Excessive bleed out of lubricant from the rope may occur depending upon the rope operating temperature and the type/composition of the lubricant and frequent re-lubrication may be required.
Certain applications (Heave compensation systems, etc.) can generate high operating temperatures and for these and any application or where ropes are stored above ambient temperature, Bridon-Bekaert would be please to discuss this subject further.
Which type of rope should I use on a multi-layer drum winder?
Bridon would recommend a FLC (Full Locked Coiled) or a Triangular (Flattened) strand construction.
The construction of these ropes make them best suited for this application as they have a high resistance to crushing.
Also due the smoothness of the circumference of these rope designs, they reduce wear at the cross over contact points as the rope wraps over itself as it is wound onto the drum.
What is the difference between Ordinary and Lang’s lay wire ropes?
An Ordinary lay rope is where the individual wires in the outer strands are spun / twisted together in the opposite direction to the direction the outer strands are twisted around the core, which results in the individual wires running along the axis of the rope. A Lang’s lay rope is where the individual wires in the outer stands are twisted in the same direction as the outer strands are twisted around the core, which results in the individual wires running across the rope in the same direction as the strands.
When should a right or left hand rope be used?
It is important to state that a left hand lay rope and a right hand lay rope MUST never be joined together unless the jointing mechanism is prevented from rotating, otherwise the rope will be allowed to un-twist together, which may have a significant effect on the integrity of the ropes, and could result in failure of the rope. There are two particular situations/arrangements where a left hand and/or right hand rope combination may be considered beneficial;
To prevent rotation of load – Twin rope operating systems (Overhead hoists, Grabbing systems, Container handling cranes, etc.) are generally designed to utilise one left hand rope and one right hand lay rope. When lifting a load both ropes will be subjected to an axial load and will try to un-twist, but since the ropes have been spun in different directions during manufacture one rope will trying to un-twist in one direction whilst the other rope will try to un-twist in the opposite direction, the two ropes therefore acting against each other to prevent/minimise rotation of the load.
When spooling a rope – Tension is generally applied to ropes whilst they are being spooled on to a winch drum and this tension will try to rotate / untwist the rope and therefore it is preferable to have the rope rotating up against the previous wrap of rope to minimise ‘gapping’ between the adjacent wrap of rope particularly on the bottom layer. Therefore, to achieve this, depending if the rope is anchored on the left or right hand side of the drum or the rope is being spooled under-wound or over-wound will determine if, a left or right hand lay rope should be utilised.
What is a rotation resistant rope and when should it be used?
Rotation Resistant ropes are normally used to lift or suspend a load without the load rotating (example, hoist ropes used on Offshore, Mobile and Tower cranes, etc.) and are constructed by spinning the inner part of the rope in one direction and the outer part of the rope in the opposite direction. When an axial load is then applied to the rope the inner part will try to untwist in one direction and the outer part will try to untwist in the opposite direction, with the two parts of the rope reacting against each other. Rotation Resistant ropes are normally of a multi-strand construction and constructed of 2-layers of strands with the inner layer spun in the opposite direction to the outer layer and of 3-layers of strands with the inner two layers spun in the opposite direction to the outer layer. Three and four stranded rope constructions may also be considered as rotation resistant, but having only three or four strands, the ropes do not exhibit such a smooth exterior profile and may prove to be more difficult to spool, particularly when multi-layer spooled.
Does wire rope have a shelf-life?
Wire rope does not have a defined shelf-live, provided the rope has been stored and maintained to ensure that the rope has not been allowed to deteriorate. To ensure that ropes remain in good condition, it is considered good practice to ensure the ropes are stored off the ground in a well-ventilated environment, protected from the sun, rain, sand/grit/dirt, chemicals or any other forms of contamination. Depending upon the environment the lubricant on the rope will tend to migrate to the bottom of the reel and dry out during storage. It is therefore good practice to rotate reels to prevent the lubricant migrating out of the rope on to the floor and to re-lubricate the ropes during storage by simple spraying a thin oil on to the surface of the rope to prevent the steel wires from corroding and/or zinc coating on the wires from oxidising (white rust). Whilst wire ropes are in storage they should be routinely inspected to ensure they have not been accidentally damaged, that all identification and certification remains in place and that the ropes remain fit for use. Rope being taken from storage on a ‘first in – first out’ basis, to minimise the length of time in storage.