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Why lubricating wire rope is important

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Extensive practical experience has proven that the active service life of wire rope can be optimised by following two important steps. The first is using the correct lubrication solutions, and the second is selecting the proper application method.

Operations that acknowledge the importance of correct wire rope lubrication and employ best practices can enjoy many benefits. For instance, they can lengthen the life span of wire rope in use, eliminate expensive replacements and even improve health and safety on site. In this blog, we’ll take deep dive into why adequate lubrication is vital for wire rope.

Protecting wire rope from wear and corrosion

Factors influencing the service life of wire rope and its performance can include operation type, environment and care, while the two major problems this solution faces are corrosion and wear.

Shock and stress loading and rapid deceleration and acceleration can contribute to wear for wire rope. Similarly, acids, fumes, salt brines, sulphur, salt air, humidity and gases can all lead to corrosion. Additionally, high temperatures can exacerbate the impacts of such environmental conditions. However, the correct type of lubricant in the appropriate quantity can protect wire rope from any form of deterioration, regardless of the root cause.

Important performance properties of wire rope lubricant

Understandably, the key performance attributes to consider when selecting a wire rope lubricant are always corrosion prevention and wear resistance. For robust corrosion protection when operating in extreme environments, choose wire rope lubricants that have a salt spray resistance of over 60 hours, as well as humidity cabinet values that exceed 60 days. When it comes to suitable wear resistance, pick a lubricant that has been infused with special anti-wear additives that has tested well in the field.

What lubricant types are suitable to protect wire rope?

The two main solutions used to lubricate wire rope are penetrating and coating lubricants. Penetrating lubricants include an evaporative solvent that is designed to help the lubricant reach deep into the core of the rope. It then evaporates and leaves behind a heavy-duty lubricating film that effectively protects and lubricates every strand of the wire rope.

Coating lubricants will penetrate slightly while sealing the exterior of the cable from unwanted moisture, efficiently reducing wear and mitigating corrosive forces such as rust.

Most wire ropes weaken from within. As a result, it is vital to ensure the centre core is sufficiently lubricated. Experts recommend a regimen which combines both lubricants. A penetrating lubricant is deployed to saturate the wire rope’s core. Then, the coating lubricant is added to seal up and protect the surface.

Lubricant application and cleaning

For optimum lubrication protection, experts recommend using an automatic lubrication system. However, the system selected should include a specific cleaning component, since wire rope must be cleaned before the lubricant is applied. Contamination build-up can act as an abrasive force which accelerates wear. Furthermore, the build-up can retain moisture, increasing the speed of corrosion. Finally, a build-up of contaminants can also hinder visual inspections.

Problems and solutions for wire rope lubrication

Effectively lubricating wire rope is not always easy and is a task frequently performed by hand. This approach is not only time-consuming but can also present a safety hazard. The lubrication process can also be a messy procedure resulting in housekeeping challenges on site. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, to lubricate properly, it is critical the lubricant migrates right to the very core of the wire rope, which is often difficult to achieve using a hand application.

To avoid messy and time-consuming application by hand, selecting an efficient automatic lubrication system is the best solution. With a swift, single pass these built-for-purpose systems can inject the correct amount of lubricant and protect the rope, reaching right into its core.

The issue of abrasive wear can happen both outside and inside wire rope, depending on a site’s operating conditions. Abrasive wear typically reduces rope diameter, often resulting in internal wire breakage and total core failure. As a result, choosing a lubricant designed for heavy-duty use is critical to extend the rope’s lifespan.

A wire rope lubricant has three key roles. It must reduce friction as each individual wire moves over another, but it must also deliver protection from corrosion in the core, within wires, and on the rope’s exterior surface. Finally, it must mitigate abrasive wear. Both coating and penetrating wire rope lubricants are available to meet the three challenges of abrasion, friction, and corrosion. When properly applied to wire rope, they possess impressive adhesive strength that enables them to remain on the wire rope and supply a strong lubricating film in between the rope’s wires and strands. They also resist water, oxidation and other contaminants, while staying pliable for ease of use.

To sum up by picking the correct lubricants with the properties demanded by your operating environment and applying them properly, you can prolong the service life of wire ropes, protecting them from degradation, lowering running costs and improving health and safety.

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