When the time comes for crane renovation, you are faced with the challenge of adopting reliable and dynamic cable management. Nowadays, virtually all modes of crane applications are subjected to ever-increasing and changing requirements related to travel distances, speed, and precision. In the international overhead crane market where various factors come into play, crane manufacturers, as well as end-users, look for electrification solutions that can meet today’s requirements. While a system should be modular, it is also expected to be easy to install, low maintenance, and cost-effective.

In such a case, engineers often choose between two power supply variants to meet these demands, namely festoon systems and energy chains. In this post, we will discuss how both solutions are different and which one is better.

Festoon System

  • This system is designed to facilitate direct electrification with flat or round cables. In this system, cables hang from trolleys and are stacked together at the hand of the crane rail.
  • Though this structure uses defined linear guidance, it requires lots of space on the crane rail which limits the amount of crane travel that can be completed in a given dimensional window.
  • Since all cables are stacked in bundles, it makes the replacement, addition, and repairs of cables a time-consuming process.
  • This system design uses different linked components, such as wheels, tow cables, bearings, and shock cords, and each individual component requires regular maintenance and proper lubrication, especially when operating in rough environments.
  • What’s more, in festoon systems, cables and hoses hang loose while guided and that means they are unsecured. They can swing, become tangled, or may even get caught in crane structure which could lead to costly repairs.
  • Festoons employ flat composite cables that consist of multiple conductors in a single jacket. This means the entire composite cable may need to be replaced if one conductor is damaged.
  • In challenging environments, such as ship-to-shore crane applications where festoon systems are installed, high winds, heavy rain, ice, and other elements can lead to malfunctioning and costly repairs. This could further lead to heavy downtime, more maintenance, and frequent inspections.

Energy Chains

  • Unlike festoon systems, in energy chains, cables are securely guided in the system with interior separators. Thus, cables never cross over one another or get tangled.
  • To avoid strain, cables are tightly clamped and can be released individually for easy repair or replacement.
  • As opposed to festoon systems in which the entire composite cable needs to be replaced if one conductor gets damaged, only the damaged cable needs to be swapped in e-chains.
  • As e-chains don’t require a loop parking station, a centre-mounted e-chain system requires around 50% less cable than a festoon system. This substantially reduces mechanical stress, system weight, and acquisition costs.
  • Due to no hanging loops, the required operating window is also less than festoon systems that makes it perfect for operations in restricted space.
  • Installation of e-chain systems is easier. The best part is that e-chains can be pre-populated with cables by the e-chain manufacturer which will make installation even more straightforward.
  • E-chains are maintenance-free and need only basic inspections to ensure that the system is working properly.
  • Energy chains are designed to protect cables from debris and extreme weather elements, and therefore, they can withstand even the most demanding environments.
  • They are available with integrated rollers for extremely long travel distances and special materials for chemical resistance.
  • They can be configured in several ways right from the use on hoist trolleys at high speeds to managing long runway travels with specific requirements.
  • Their modular design allows them to be used in a wide variety of applications, including both outdoor gantry cranes and indoor bridge cranes.

By now, you can easily gather that energy chains are designed for optimal efficiency and are much better than festoon systems. Thus, e-chains make an ideal choice for crane renovation projects.

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