Contributed by Jody Muelaner
Cable carriers are hollow chains which guide and protect cables and hoses during motion. They are typically installed on-site with the cables and hoses fitted through manifolds and junction boxes, and fixing plates, brackets and guide or support structures installed. Although it can make sense to carry out this work in-situ, it is also possible to buy a pre-engineered assembly. This can greatly simplify and accelerate a new installation. Purchasing a turn-key solution is especially useful in harsh environments or where there are access constraints, such as offshore or on bridges.
A pre-harnessed cable-carrier may simply consist of the required set of cables and/or hoses, fitted into a cable carrier. This will normally include end connectors, but it might also include custom brackets to allow drop-in replacement, junction boxes and manifolds, guidance and support structures, enclosures, or safety mechanisms.
Supports and guide trays are often fabricated to suit a specific installation and it therefore makes sense to have these supplied with a pre-harnessed cable carrier assembly. Some applications may require self-aligning brackets to allow for misalignment or movement in the structure or machinery to which the cable-carrier is attached. For very long travel applications, support structures can be fitted with carriages running on rollers which guide and support the carrier with minimal friction. Other special support and guide structures might include sliding covers or roll-up doors.
Special bars may be used when it is vital for cables and hoses to maintain accurate separation and alignment with the neutral axis of the cable carrier. These special bars can be machined with holes sized and positioned to suit the particular configuration of cables and hoses for the installation.
Pre-engineered cable carriers can be fully specified by the end user, with the cable carrier manufacturer supplying the complete assembly to this specification. Alternatively, cables, houses, brackets and other components may be ordered from separate suppliers and then shipped directly to the cable carrier manufacturer for assembly. The complete drop-in system can then be directly shipped to the installation site.
Some applications need a rapid and dependable installation, meaning that a pre-engineered cable carrier assembly really makes sense. These include situations where there is a need to minimize downtime, as well as where there are access constraints or harsh environments. Drop-in pre-harnessed carrier assemblies are, therefore, often used in military and offshore applications. In these cases, the carrier assembly may be supplied on a storage reel further simplifying handling, storage and installation.