For long travels - for example in the bulk goods or crane industry - the so-called motorised cable drums or cable drums can be used as the energy supply. Their assembly is relatively simple and they usually do not require a guide trough, to hold the cable in the required track.
As an alternative to motorised cable drums, igus - manufacturer of components made of high-performance polymers - offers complete energy chain systems, which are particularly advantageous over long travels.
Whenever design engineers have to guide hoses and power and data cables in moving applications with long travels (more than 100 metres), the question arises of which energy supply system is the most efficient, especially considering such factors as reliability, maintainability, and future security? A motor cable drum? Or an energy chain? The advantages and disadvantages of the two systems are explored here.
Energy chain systems have no slip ring, which is the reason it is also possible to transmit media such as air, water and oil without interruption.
Energy chain systems do not require their own drive, they are simply attached to the moving part of the system and carried along.
Various cables and hoses for energy, data and media can be safely managed in one system and individually replaced or supplemented if necessary.
Depending on the travel/cable length, a motor cable drum has a diameter of up to 8 metres. In addition, space is required for the motor and the slip ring body. In the case of an energy chain system, irrespective of the travel, only one moving arm is required on the crane - which is integrated in the installation space of the crane - and the installation space for the trough of the chain on the ground.
A motor cable drum can be moved at a speed of approx. 300m/min. For the first few metres, the pace must be reduced for safe rolling. For medium feed, this means that the system must be braked and accelerated halfway. With an energy chain system, travel speeds of up to 600m/min are an option, and this is possible fully without any restrictions on the loads or speeds at start-up.
In medium feed, half the travel length plus 20 metres reserve must be calculated as the cable length for motorised cable drums. In energy chain systems, one also calculates with half the travel length, but with only two metres in addition, which are needed for the radius of the chain. At higher travel speeds (over 60m/min), however, end feed is recommended for motor cable drums. This increases the cable length to the total travel length plus 20 metres reserve.
Rolling energy chains from igus are used in the Czech lignite power plant. The travel is 615 metres and has been in operation for ten years without failure.
Ready harnessed energy chain systems are used in crane construction and save a great deal of time during installation, and assembly errors are ruled out to a large extent. Expensive shut-downs and thus downtime can be avoided with igus energy chain systems.
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