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Motion control systems can vary from straightforward single-axis direct-drive systems with little wiring to large and complex multi-axis robotic systems with an abundance of cables. Cable carriers are essentially structures designed to house cables.

The structures themselves can be made of many materials such as plastic, steel, or a metal alloy. Cable carriers are used to protect cables and hoses on moving machinery. They prevent tangling and increase safety by not having cables susceptible to getting caught in moving parts of a machine. Applications for cable carriers can range from machine tools and robotics to cleanroom applications and large industrial equipment like cranes and other construction machinery.

Carriers can house a large volume of cables and wires and support the weight of them all without sagging or putting stress on the cabling. They also make managing and routing the cables through a machine or factory much simpler and provide easy access for troubleshooting or maintenance as well.

Selecting the right kind of cable carrier for an application starts with a few simple guidelines. The most important points to consider are the specifics of the application. These include the length of travel, the number of cables or hoses, the size and weight of the cables, the required speed and acceleration and environmental factors such as exposure to any debris, excessive heat or chemicals. Knowing the weight of the cables ensures that the carrier won’t fail by snapping in two.

Cable carrier styles can be either open or closed. Open varieties allow for easy access to the cables and visible access as well, whereas closed carriers seal off the cables from the environment to protect from environmental contaminants such as metal filings.

Mary Gannon

Editor, Design World

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Cable Management Design Considerations

Should I use cable trays or cable carriers in my motion application?

What type of cable management should you use in your motion control systems?

Cable carrier design guidelines

Of all the machine design details to worry about, cable carriers probably don’t top your list. Yet if you care about the reliability and uptime of moving machines, it pays to devote extra engineering attention to cable carriers and the components within them. A well-designed cable carrier will dramatically extend the life of cables and fluid power.

Cabling in a motion control system can run the gamut from a single wire running to a single-axis direct drive, to a complicated system of expensive cables and wiring on multi-axis robots. As a result, it is necessary to consider cable management in your system design.

Where there is a myriad of cables and wiring, cable management becomes an issue. A simple, low-cost form of cable management uses twist-tie bundlers that groups wires and cables together. However, such bundling can pose weight problems that cause sagging and put undue strain on cables.

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Material Considerations

How do you specify metal cable carriers?

How do you specify plastic cable carriers?

What are the temperature limitations of plastic cable carriers?

Should you lubricate steel cable carriers?

Cable carriers are essentially hollow chains that enclose electrical cables, as well as hydraulic or pneumatic hoses. They guide and protect the enclosed cables during motion, preventing wear and damage. An important function of cable carriers is to constrain bending to a single plane.

Plastic cable carriers are fitted to machines to protect and guide cables and hoses. Cable carriers are constructed as a chain of rigid plastic sections. These form an articulated rectangular box section through which cables and hoses are inserted. Enclosing the cables and hoses prevents some forms of damage.

Often used in highly corrosive environments, steel cable carriers provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and maximum unsupported spans. They usually feature a special coating to resist corrosion from chemicals and other abrasive materials.

Many types of plastic are used in cable management systems, but the most common standard plastic that most people use is glass-filled nylon or nylon six.

This material is best suited to applications that range in temperatures from –40° to 240°F on the high end. 

Specifying Cable Carriers

Applications and Installation Requirements

Different ways to secure cable tracks (cable carriers) to machinery

All about multi-flex cable carriers used on robotic arms

Is an open or closed cable carrier better for a given application?

When should you use pre-harnessed (pre-engineered) cable carrier assemblies?

Good cable management is vital to the accurate and reliable operation of an industrial robot. Cables that catch and snag will affect the accuracy of a robot. Over time they will result in unplanned maintenance and excessive downtime. Robotic cell integrators have identified cable issues as the most significant cause of downtime.

Cable carriers guide and protect electrical cables, as well as hydraulic or pneumatic hoses. They limit the minimum bend radius and therefore bending stresses, while often also constraining bending to a single plane. They shield and protect cables from wear, prevent entrapment in moving machinery and avoid entanglement.

Open cable carriers have an open chain-link structure with cross bars that contain cables and hoses. Enclosed cable carriers form a complete tube; this can be achieved using a chain-link structure with sliding covers, or as a homogeneous fully sealed corrugated tube.

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.

A Long Travel Solution for Plastic Carriersthat Eliminates Guide Troughs 

Dynatect manufactures a complete line of engineered components to protect equipment and people. Dynatect’s range of products includes cable/hose carriers, automated safety doors, protective covers, slip clutches, ball screws, and molded components. With tens of thousands of worldwide clients, and a library of more than 500,000 customized products, Dynatect has the broadest product offering to solve applications. Dynatect continues to build on its customer experience through improving service differentiation, expanding product portfolio, and reducing lead times.

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