Energy chain systems instead of motor cable drums

Energy chains vs. motorised cable reel

Save costs on long travels with energy chain systems

For long travels - for example in the bulk goods or crane industry - the so-called motorised cable reels or cable drums can be used as energy supply. Their assembly is relatively simple and they usually do not require a guide trough to hold the cable in the required track. As an alternative to motorised cable drums, igus - manufacturer of components made of high-performance polymers - offers complete energy chain systems, which are particularly advantageous in combination with long travels.

White paper: energy chains vs. motor cable drums

The advantages and disadvantages of two industrial energy supply systems

Whenever design engineers have to guide hoses and power and data cables in moving applications with long travels (more than 100 metres), the question arises of which energy supply system is the most efficient, especially considering such factors as reliability, maintainability, and future security? A motor cable drum? Or an energy chain? The advantages and disadvantages of the two systems are explored here.
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What is the difference between motorised cable drums and energy chain systems?

Energy chains systems

Energy chains systems
  • Large product selection
  • Many different types of movement possible
  • High requirements regarding service life where dynamic loads are very high
  • Ready-to-install harnessed energy supplies
  • Innovative products that can be assembled very quickly
  • Energy and data and media safely guided in one system
  • Travel up to 1,000 metres 
  • Online tools for calculating service life

Motorised cable drums

Motorised cable drums
  • Slip ring and motor for energy transmission
  • Cost-effective for simple and short travels
  • Easy transport and assembly
  • Easy change of location
  • Diameter of the drum up to 8 metres

Why are energy chain systems best suited for long travels?

No slip ring required

Energy chain systems have no slip ring, which is the reason it is also possible to transmit media such as air, water and oil without interruption.

Motor / Control system

Energy chain systems do not require their own drive, they are simply attached to the moving part of the system and carried along.

All in one system

Various cables and hoses for energy, data and media can be safely managed in one system and individually replaced or supplemented if necessary.


Depending on the travel/cable length, a motor cable drum has a diameter of up to 8 metres. In addition, space is required for the motor and the slip ring body. In the case of an energy chain system, irrespective of the travel, only one moving arm is required on the crane - which is integrated in the installation space of the crane - and the installation space for the trough of the chain on the ground.


A motor cable drum can be moved at a speed of approx. 300m/min. For the first few metres, the pace must be reduced for safe rolling. For medium feed, this means that the system must be braked and accelerated halfway. With an energy chain system, travel speeds of up to 600m/min are an option, and this is possible fully without any restrictions on the loads or speeds at start-up.

Cable length

In medium feed, half the travel length plus 20 metres reserve must be calculated as the cable length for motorised cable drums. In energy chain systems, one also calculates with half the travel length, but with only two metres in addition, which are needed for the radius of the chain. At higher travel speeds (over 60m/min), however, end feed is recommended for motor cable drums. This increases the cable length to the total travel length plus 20 metres reserve.

For maximum service life with optimised design - P4HD.56R heavy-duty rol e-chain

The new heavy-duty rol e-chain meets all the relevant requirements for container cranes of the next and future generations.Longer and longer travels, greater dynamics, short stress cycles, zero failures: in brief, this is what is demanded by the manufacturers of ship-to-shore container cranes for energy chains on the crane bridges. The new P4HD.56R fulfils these requirements - with maximum economy.
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Real-world examples

Coal power station

Coal power station

Record-breaking application running for ten years with 100% reliability

Rolling energy chains from igus are used in the Czech lignite power plant. The travel is 615 metres and has been in operation for ten years without failure.



Effective energy and data transmission in crane construction

Ready harnessed energy chain systems are used in crane construction and save a great deal of time during installation, and assembly errors are ruled out to a large extent. Expensive shut-downs and thus downtime can be avoided with igus energy chain systems.

How do I find the right energy chain system?

The selection of energy chain systems is huge. In order to find the right solution for your application, we request you
to fill in the form with some basic information. You will then be advised by
one of our experts.
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From single parts to complete systems

System P4.1

System P4.1

Travels over 1,000 metres and predictive maintenance

Motor cable CFCRANE

Motor cable CFCRANE

For highest voltages and outputs

Ready-to-install system solution

Ready-to-install system solution readychain

All in one system and 95% less harnessing time

Further information

Long travels

Long travels

The lengths of the travel can reach 1,000 metres and more.
Engineering projects & special solutions

Engineering projects & special solutions

From the first sketch to installation and on-site commissioning.
Installation service

Installation service

Predictable fixed cost for the assembly, maintenance or inspection of energy supply systems on your system.