The drilling industry uses wire ropes for a variety of applications. Whether being used to hoist down-hole tools or to lift loads, wire rope is popular on many drilling sites for its strength and resistance to heat and other environmental damage.
The strength of wire rope comes from the unique, layered construction. Wires are twisted together to form strands, and the rope is formed by twisting those strands around a fiber or steel core. There are many different configurations for this complex piece of machinery that provide greater strength or flexibility. No matter if you’re using regular lay rope – the rope strands are laid in a different direction from the wire strands – or Lang lay rope – the wire strands lay in the same direction as the rope strands – operating and environmental conditions will wear on the life of the rope.
Wire ropes should be inspected for damaged strands or broken wires before each use. Other associated components including end fittings should be inspected every time, as well. Bending, stresses, abrasion, corrosion, loading conditions, and other factors all contribute to potential damage. It’s important for your crew to look for these early signs of failure:
- Six or more broken wires
- Recused outer wire diameter
- Shiny spots and localized wear on the outside strands
- Excessive corrosion
- Distortion, kinking, or bird caging
- Damage to hooks, links, rings, or other end fittings
Depending on the severity, any of these conditions may require the wire rope to be removed from use and discarded to avoid catastrophic incidents involving crew or equipment. There are other steps you and your crew can take to avoid wire rope failures:
- Lubricate wire ropes used in outdoor environments
- Store wire ropes in a dry, well-ventilated building or shed
- Keep wire ropes and sling up off the ground to avoid corrosion and rust
- Follow proper rigging practices
- Use the right wire rope for the job
- Perform regular inspections
Every drilling site offers up its own set of dangers, but with preparation and diligence wire rope failure doesn’t have to be one of them. Proper selection, inspection, and care of your wire rope and other drilling equipment is key to job safety.