Wednesday, 20 March 2024 11:33

Getting to know the ropes, with WearCheck’s rope-testing team

Asset health, thriving productivity and profitability, minimised unscheduled maintenance and maximised team safety – these are among the goals for most industrial operations, including mines, quarries, construction projects and others.

A key step towards achieving these goals is knowing the condition of all operating equipment and components at any given moment. This means that constant monitoring is important.

Specialist condition monitoring company, WearCheck, empowers industrial operations with accurate insight into the condition of assets, enabling maintenance crews to optimise the health of an expansive array of machines and their components, using many different testing techniques.

The company serves as a hub for specialised teams that focus on monitoring different aspects across various sectors. In addition to its core service - the scientific analysis of used oil and other fluids – WearCheck also provides advanced field services (AFS) asset reliability care (ARC), scientific water analysis, transformer oil analysis and lubricant-enabled reliability (LER) services.

Through these monitoring techniques, WearCheck’s team of scientists, technicians and diagnosticians can assist customers to ensure that major, unscheduled equipment failure is avoided. This saves both time and money for industrial operations, and boosts productivity and safety.

The AFS team consists of experienced, highly skilled technical operators, who conduct technical compliance, non-destructive testing and rope testing.

This is a discussion around Rope Condition Assessment (RCA), where the integrity of steel wire ropes is tested to the relevant SANS Codes of Practice, and OEM or international standards.

Why test ropes?

To ensure that the required safety standards are met, WearCheck’s AFS team complies meticulously with the strict regulations set out in the  South African National Standards (SANS) 10293:1996 Code of Practice for Steel Wire Ropes and various other relevant SANS Codes of Practice, which state that, “Conservatism must prevail where the safety of people or the continuity of production is involved, and great accuracy is not achievable. For the rope condition assessment inspector, the most important issue is reliability of defect detection in terms of the prescribed standard. Sound knowledge and understanding of component behaviour under the given service conditions is indispensable to all parties concerned.”

Roger Herrwood of WearCheck doing rope testing

The rope-testing process

Paul Musgrove is WearCheck’s AFS operations manager. He outlines the testing process. ‘We use a standard set of instruments to test a variety of different steel wire ropes. This includes a magnetic rope test instrument, which is affixed to the rope. All WearCheck’s RCA instrumentation is calibrated annually by an independent third-party service provider.

‘It magnetises the rope, feeds back information to an on-site computer, and detects anomalies such as corrosion, broken wires, wear, plastic deformation and many other problems that can occur in ropes,’ says Musgrove.

‘We can assess and apply the relevant discard criteria to a rope which has been compromised. The anomalies are calculated, test results analysed, and we advise the rope maintenance team immediately where corrective action is needed.

‘Non-destructive test methods are conducted on site, so that healthy ropes can continue in their normal operation until they have reached the end of life, based on the applicable discard criteria.’

How often should ropes be checked?

For licensed winders, RCA is generally done every 30 days, not exceeding every 40 days. The RCA, on chairlift ropes and unlicensed winder ropes, is gusually done at frequencies as determined by the relevant legally appointed engineer at all the relevant sites. The site engineers are obliged to adhere to the applicable legislation. WearCheck’s rope inspectors stick to a regular testing schedule of all the ropes in their care.

What industries use RCA?

RCA is conducted largely in the mining industry, where double drum winders, chair lifts, elevators and other steel wire rope components are regularly checked.

Also, rope manufacturers rely on RCA as a means of ensuring compliance with quality specs during the quality assessment (QA) process in the production of new ropes.

Who can conduct RCA tests?

The process of qualifying as an RCA inspector is particularly rigorous, to ensure that extreme safety measures are in place. There are currently only about 12 people in South Africa who are qualified to conduct rope condition analysis, and six of these technicians work at WearCheck.

The highly specialised certification process calls for an artisanal qualification, an N5 certificate, at least 18 months’ supervised work experience in the industry, and two written and practical exams, which must be passed with a minimum of 75%.

WearCheck’s extensive network of laboratories

WearCheck provides condition monitoring services throughout Africa, the Middle East and India – the company’s comprehensive network of 16 laboratories spans the continent and beyond, with a presence in nine countries.

WearCheck serves customers in a range of industries, some of which include mining, automation, manufacturing, wind turbines and power generation, earthmoving, industrial, transport, shipping, aircraft and electrical operations.

The company has established laboratories near industry/mining hubs in several countries, all of which are situated within easy reach for customers. In addition to the labs in South Africa, there are laboratories in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, DRC, Ghana, Dubai and India.

Paul Musgrove, WearCheck

For more information, please visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call WearCheck South Africa +27 (31) 700-5460.

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