Show Your Tether That You Care
Caring for your tether is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you don’t get stuck in the middle of a job, risking downtime and loss of equipment. Your tether serves multiple vital roles in a remote inspection, providing your equipment with power, communication data and allowing you a last resort option for retrieval.
While the manufacturers take care to create a robust solution, the life span of a tether will depend on the way it’s looked after. Major damage is most likely to occur during operation, so here are some tips help mitigate those chances:
- Create a culture of respect for the tether – while the tether may endure being stepped on occasionally, constant carelessness can result in crushing the conductors inside the cable.
- Use safety cones or markers to isolate the area that the tether length is operated in.
- Utilise any strain relief mechanisms available such as built-in devices like a Kellems grip, or separate like a spring.
- Use deflection mechanisms when navigating bends to match the bend radius of the tether, particularly at the inspection entrance – rotating cable sheaves can reduce wear and loading on the cable significantly.
- Avoid unspooling the entire length of the reel, this exposes the connector to large forces. Having several wraps around the reel will protect the connector.
- When rewinding the tether, make use of any rear camera that your equipment may have. This can prevent the crawler driving over the cable and become tangled, or stop the cable from kinking (this can break conductors) due to slack, or any other number of potentially unseen hazards.
It is equally important to preserve your tether outside of operation:
- Clean the reel thoroughly of dirt and debris – tightly winding a tether after use with debris stuck to it can cause it to become embedded in the sheath, creating new damage.
- Ensure that the tether is wound neatly in layers, a messy cable winding can cause the unit to crush itself.
- Perform preventative maintenance on the mechanical and electrical aspects of the drum to enable smooth operation and detect any faults early.
The operational life of a tether varies with usage, however, if the precautions above aren’t taken into account, a single crushing load on an unspooled cable can result in up to half the cable length having to be removed, or the entire length replaced. With a careful maintenance regime and safety culture, a tether should never suffer major faults and surpass service life expectations.