The rising costs of raw materials are putting even more emphasis on the need for long-lasting, high-performance cables. Felicity Landon reports on the latest trends
Choosing the right cables in the port environment means considering weather conditions, noise levels, the pressure to work larger ships faster and - increasingly - rising costs."The dramatic increase in costs for copper, resources and replacement of inferior products are some growing trends for concern," says Don Nester, Chainflex product manager in North America for igus. "Port operators need to choose long-lasting, high-performance products the first time around to avoid maintenance fees and costly downtime."
And more than ever, the focus is on the efficiency - for which read "speed" - of the terminal operation, says the newly merged company Conductix-Wampfler. "For energy and data supply systems and components, this means less time for maintenance, higher duty cycles and significantly increased operating speeds.
Conductix-Wampfler quotes a series of system parameters that have become the standard for container handling equipment in ports - including hoisting speed of 240 m/min, trolley speed 270 m/min and gantry speed 60-300 m/min, multiple containers per move, and reducing travel distance by splitting the move into multiple sub-processes - secondary trolley and load platforms.
"Conductix-Wampfler has supplied hundreds of systems worldwide, increasingly for high-performance crane and hoisting equipment," says a spokesman. "High speed and acceleration has been achieved by our state-of-the-art festoons, reels and energy guiding chains or even, in some cases, with conductor bar systems.
"We expect a further increase of speed and acceleration of systems in the near future and we are already working on solutions for these requirements. High accelerations are especially demanding as they directly translate into higher forces. This requires new ideas for design and technology."
To help keep costs down, igus offers ReadyChain, a complete, preassembled cable carrier system that combines its Energy Chain cable carriers with Chainflex cables.
"ReadyChain is an out-of-the-box, plug and play solution," says Don Nester. "It comes equipped with various connectors, brackets, strain relief and other accessories. It reduces manufacturing costs and decreases assembly time, while also enabling companies to increase production throughput, reduce inventory and procurement costs and improve speed to market, and comes with a complete system guarantee."
In June this year, the 375th ship-to-shore crane was equipped with an igus Energy Chain System. The company has also equipped more than 2,500 rubber tyred gantry and rail-mounted gantry cranes worldwide, says Mr Nester.
He says ports should consider a range of issues when making their choices - and noise is perhaps one of the newer considerations.
"An important concern for operators is the need for low-noise operating systems to compensate for the fact that ports are expanding and migrating increasingly closer to residential neighbourhoods," he says. "However, these systems must also possess enough speed to unload ships as quickly as possible."
For this purpose, igus has developed its System P4 Energy Chains, which are designed for extremely long travel lengths. System P4 is extremely quiet and wear-resistant, even at fast speeds and high fill weights, says Mr Nester.
"Thanks to the use of additional centre links, there is virtually no weight limit. The upper run and the lower run of the chain offset one another. They roll on a consistently wide area, which increases the service life of the cable carrier. In addition the pitch of the chain links is now identical with and without roller, which means the Energy Chain achieves smooth and vibration-free movement in the radius. The rollers themselves are firmly integrated into the sides of the Energy Chain."
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