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Should We Be Using Wire Rope?

October 19, 2022

Industrial machines often have heavy loads to lift or pull, and ultra-strong wire ropes have multiple usage applications in such scenarios. This includes dragline excavators, working in an open pit mine, an oil drilling rig, construction cranes, farm machinery and many other similarly demanding environments. 

Safety is a top priority for any wire rope usage type. However, so too are aspects such as durability, ease of maintenance and the overall performance value. All of which begs the question, should you be using a wire rope?

While we’d always recommend giving us a call to discuss your specific requirements, plus checking in with your health and safety officer, here is an overview of wire ropes to guide you. 

Wire Ropes: An Overview

Industrial wire ropes typically range from 2cm to 13cm in diameter. The main usage of a wire rope is either to act as a support cable for static structures or for machinery applications. 

Wire ropes are typically made up of three basic components: 

Core – Made from a fibre material or steel, the core sits at the centre of the rope. 

Wires – Wrapped around the core are individual wires that are drawn to a small diameter. 

Strands – A group of wires (normally around 7 individual wires) are twisted in a bundle to form strong strands that then wrap around the core. A typical wire rope will have 6 strands. 

Creating wire ropes involves a huge industrial process to ensure the strength and integrity of the finished product. Different applications require varying degrees of flexibility and endurance which will influence the production stage. 

Once the wire rope has been created, it is fed through rollers to apply vertical pressure. The aim is to erase any evidence of the wire previously being spooled on a bobbin to ensure the internal wires and strands are the correct shape. Additional lubrications or solutions can also be applied to enhance certain properties of the finished wire rope.  

What Is Wire Rope Used For?

The short answer is wire rope is used for many different types of applications. Taking a look at a cross-section of a wire rope will show you just how durable the finished wire rope is, and it’s this level of strength and durability that offers untold potential for a variety of different industries. 


A common use of wire ropes in the automotive industry is to create vehicle winches or tow ropes. However, wire ropes can even be used on the actual roads in the form of wire fencing along highways. This is because the ropes can absorb the impact from vehicles to minimise injury to passengers and the vehicle itself versus using a solid structure.  


On a construction site, there can be any number of heavy loads to lift and reposition. In terms of construction machinery, wire ropes can be found on tower cranes, all-terrain cranes, crawler cranes, rotary drilling rigs, piling rigs, duty cycle crawler cranes, and scraper installations. Wire ropes may also be used in the construction project itself such as to create a stadium roof as just one of its endless usage examples.

General Manufacturing

Any manufacturing process that requires mechanical power such as lifting or hoisting may feature a wire rope. Wire rope can also be used to transmit force such as within a Bowden cable.

Oil & Gas 

Wire ropes that support the oil and gas industries are considered to be the world’s largest and strongest steel cables. Dubbed ‘Herculean’ by experts, multiple individual cables are twisted around a core with a powerful machine to form a cable-laid rope. This ensures enormous strength and high tolerance to excessive tension. To further extend the lifespan of oil and gas wire ropes, especially given the working conditions of the industry, the cables are coated in a special lubricant and an anti-corrosion solution. 


For riggers, wire rope is only useful if it has terminations which are made using aluminium cold-pressed ferrules. This gives the ability to form an attachment point. The thimbles for which the attachment point is created often come in predetermined colours to denote the sling length. Although there is no universal standard, most commonly red = 1.5m, white = 3m and blue = 6m. Other sling lengths are available and are of the choice of the purchaser. 

Wire Rope Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Great strength benefits
  • Fatigue and corrosion resistant 
  • Lower initial costs versus other rope types
  • Braided multi-part slings offer high resistance to wire kinking 
  • Many different designs are available

Wire Rope Cons

  • Low strength to weight ratio
  • The construction can be difficult to inspect in and around the core
  • Mis-use can cause kinking, crushing or abrasion
  • Extreme temperature limitations may apply 

Wire Ropes UK – Metreel Material Handling

Wire ropes are incredibly durable and versatile. However, the question of whether you should be using a wire rope depends on the application and the specific requirements that are associated. Luckily, if you need any assistance with all things wire ropes including their suitability you’re in the right place. 

Are you interested in finding a suitable wire rope or cabling solution for your operations? Metreel is a UK specialist of cables, hose festoon systems and much more. We can offer a variety of products designed to travel along wire rope. We recommend giving our cabling and wire rope page a read to learn more.

Metreel is based in Derbyshire working across the UK and beyond, as a leading manufacturer of material handling, fall protection equipment and powerfeed cabling. 

You can also download our free brochure to discover more about our product specifications by visiting our product brochure page. If you’re ready to place an order or have any questions, please give us a call on 0115 647 0422 or email us at [email protected].