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Energy chains from igus have helped Cameron Forecourt to ensure a safe and productive solution to providing electrical, water and fuel connections to a jetty that floats in the harbour at Barrow-in-Furness with rough seas and an 11m tide. Cameron Forecourt installed a floating pontoon for DONG Energy that is used to service its wind farm just off the north-west coast of England.

Electricity generated by the wind farm is delivered to the National Grid at a substation in Heysham, Lancashire, via 27km of buried subsea transmission and onshore cables.

According to Dennis West, manager at Cameron Forecourt, the company’s traditional approach to such floating pontoons would be to run all the cabling and service pipes along the side or floor of the access ramp. However, he said, such an arrangement is unsightly and, more importantly, could present safety issues. There has to be enough spare cable on the floor at the bottom of the bridge to allow for the movement of the pontoon between low and high tides. The cable and piping is often coiled at the foot of the walkway and as the pontoon rises and falls the cables can become untidy and present a trip hazard. 

The route taken by West and his team to overcome the aesthetic, safety and operational challenges was to utilise igus energy chains. The company said that the energy chain cable carriers (also known as drag chains) became the ‘umbilical cord of the operation’.

The services within the energy chain were two feed lines for the two dispensers that allow the boats to be loaded, a water hose, a bilge hose for the sewerage and the cabling required for the pontoon for lights and electric hose reels. Also included within the enclosure was a 100mm-thick fuel line of double-contained marine pipework with leak detection on the outer pipe.

Key benefits of product application

  • West said that by using the igus energy chains, all the services are accommodated ‘in one place in a very neat, professional and safe arrangement’. 
  • All the wires, cables and piping are enclosed together within the energy chain, safe from damage and presenting no hazards for those working on the pontoon or boarding the ships.
  • Installing the energy chains was a trouble-free operation. All the cabling and amenities were fitted into the track on the harbour side before it was swung into position and fastened to the pontoon.
  • The length was set to accommodate the low tide position, approximately an 18m run. As the tide comes in and the pontoon rises, the flexible energy chain doubles back on itself. In this way, the energy chain guides and protects the hoses and cables from the often violent movements of the pontoon as it rocks with the tide and is buffeted by the waves crashing into the harbour wall.
  • The igus energy chains are modular and therefore can be assembled quickly and easily to accommodate any length of travel, which enables engineers to save installation time.
  • The chains are tested against the environmental elements, high loads, high speeds and noise.
  • Being corrosion resistant and self-lubricating, the chains reduce downtime while increasing the service lives of the cables and hoses.
  • Cameron Forecourt’s managing director, Barry Jenner, is convinced that the use of energy chains had delivered a safe and cost-effective solution in a very challenging application. ‘The installation has made the servicing of the pontoon far more professional and removed any safety hazard,’ he said.
  • Jenner added: ‘It has also allowed the cables and pipelines to be fully enclosed, which offers protection from accidental damage, giving us confidence that whatever the environmental conditions the installation can continue to service our client’s boats and keep the power flowing back to land from the offshore wind farm.’

Igus

Igus is the largest producer of reinforced plastic energy chains and injection-moulded polymer bearings. The range of polymer bearings includes Iglidur plain, Igubal spherical and Drylin linear bearings. They offer an excellent price-to-life relationship and are developed under the toughest conditions. They are oil, maintenance and lubrication free, low wear, resistant to dirt and dust, corrosion free and simple to fit. Igus also has the data to precisely predict the lifetime of these bearings within a specific application.

Igus is the largest producer of reinforced plastic energy chains and injection-moulded polymer bearings. The range of polymer bearings includes Iglidur plain, Igubal spherical and Drylin linear bearings. They offer an excellent price-to-life relationship and are developed under the toughest conditions. They are oil, maintenance and lubrication free, low wear, resistant to dirt and dust, corrosion free and simple to fit. Igus also has the data to precisely predict the lifetime of these bearings within a specific application.

Energy chains are the umbilical cord of modern machines. They minimise downtime and protect, support and extend the service life of cables and hoses. The broad range incorporates more than 30,000 innovative, low-cost products. From the smallest ‘micro’ chain to the largest chain in the world, the E4.350, Igus energy chains are capable of long and short travel distances at high speeds in all axes.

Igus also has its own cable series, Chainflex, specially designed with energy chains in mind. They are highly flexible cables, offering a long service life and very small bending radii. A wide range is available, from small signal cables to large power cables, high-speed data cables and glass fibre-optic cables.

The company’s energy chains and Chainlflex cables can be delivered as a fully harnessed and pre-assembled Readychain system, cutting purchasing, warehousing and installation costs.

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