Part 1: The Story of drag chains

Topic: Drag chains - Solutions for future motion applications

Nowadays, automation is a global trend and is being applied in many industrial fields in the world. This trend requires machines to operate and move continuously, and quickly in a short time to increase productivity. Therefore, many moving applications require high performance and quality, so the drag chain is an indispensable product in production. However, what do you know about drag chains and their application? In the "Cable Chain - Solutions for future motion applications" topic, we, HELUKABEL Vietnam, will bring interesting information about drag chains - a great invention to help you solve problems for factory automation applications.

In part 1 of the topic, our expert, Mr. Bilal Ismail - Area Sales Manager for Asia (minus China) of EKD Systems, will bring the story of the drag chains on the market.

According to Mr. Bilal Ismail, drag chains, also known as cable chains or energy chains, have a rich history of formation over many decades, including four main stages.

1. Formation period (From 1950s to 1960s)

In the 1950s, when machinery needed to be moved a lot, some people realized that power cables were problematic because they had to follow the machines, even being dragged on the floor. Considering this situation, the customers approached the engineers to review and resolve their issues. It was not until the early 60s that cable chains began to be born with plastic materials and then steel.

The main purpose of drag chains at this point is to protect and manage cables or hoses in highly moving applications. Metal drag chains are commonly used in heavy industry while plastic chains will be used mainly for light movements in not too harsh environments.

2. Advancements in design and materials (From the 1970s to 1980s)

In the 1970s and 1980s, drag chains took new strides in design and materials to bring innovation to industries. At this time, plastic drag chains are popular because of their flexibility, reduced weight, and increased resistance to chemicals and abrasion in motion.

New manufacturing techniques allow drag chains to be used in more complex lines, suitable for different sizes and configurations of cables or hoses. In particular, in this period, the drag chain also has the advantage of preventing cable interference and making the design and installation of electric cables more organized and beautiful.

Plastic drag chains of EKD Systems.
Steel drag chains of EKD Systems.

3. Expansion of application (From the 1990s to the present)

From the 1990s to the present, it has been very common for cables and hoses to be constantly moving in many industries. It is this that has set the stage for the development of solutions to protect cables and pipes in moving applications. Thus, drag chains have become a popular product that has the function of protecting and ensuring power and signal transmission while in motion.

Drag chains are now available in various specialized versions, such as high-speed, noise-reducing drag chains, etc. This development aims to expand the usability of the traction chain in different environments. In addition, along with the development of material technology, the drag chains also introduce self-lubricating lines to reduce friction and require no maintenance. This improvement not only helps to increase the durability of the product but also helps the factory to save costs.

Hybrid chains of EKD Systems.

In addition, some smart lines have built-in sensors that will provide monitoring and enable predictive maintenance to further enhance the performance of the drag chain system and the entire application.

In light of the rapid development of drag chains, EKD Systems joined and started to develop and improve plastic and steel drag chains. EKD Systems is known for its line of hybrid drag chains. This product is a standout product line, specially designed with side parts made of plastic and cross bars of the chain made of aluminum. The hybrid drag chain is a combination of metal and plastic. Furthermore, when it comes to movements that require high speed and precision, the marathon drag chain is the ideal solution that allows up to 8 meters per second to push and pull.

At present, EKD Systems - our subsidiary, HELUKABEL, provides a very diverse product portfolio of drag chains, specially customized solutions, designed according to project requirements to optimize costs and suitability with the operating environment.

4. Ongoing innovations

Today, the drag chain industry is constantly evolving and innovating to meet the different needs of the market. These products are not only made of plastic and metal but also can be integrated to optimize for each application.

At EKD Systems, our research and development are aimed at solving new challenges in terms of performance, product life, chain flexibility in transit, and integration of the efficient monitoring and functions of the entire cable chain system.

Mr. Bilal Ismail emphasized: “We can see that the history of drag chains is associated with the constant efforts of experts. In this effort to provide an efficient and safe power cable and hose protection and management system, drag chains have been improved day by day to meet all the complex needs in industries.”

In part 2 of our topic “Cable Chains – Solutions for Future Motion Applications”, we, HELUKABEL Vietnam, will provide an overview of the development potential of the drag chain industry as well as the demand for this product in the Vietnamese market. Please read our part 2 on July 25, 2023.

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