Operators of small ski lifts can be happy. Jakob Rope Systems has developed a new ski lift rope that solves the weak points of previous ski lift ropes. The Emmental rope specialists give an insight into the development of their fiber rope.
The rope technicians at Jakob Rope Systems have developed a new fiber rope for small ski lifts with a low rope guide. The small lifts do valuable work on practice slopes for the safe ascent of ski beginners. They are used on hilltops as a connecting lift and feeder to the main cable cars. There are also small ski lifts in valleys on the outskirts of the village or in glacier ski areas. Skiers can grab the running rope at hip height and be comfortably pulled up the mountain.
What ropes can do for small ski lifts
Fiber ropes for small ski lifts meet special requirements. They have to be light and easy to grip. The passenger must not be able to injure himself on components or signs of wear on the rope. The rope must be UV-resistant, durable and easy to maintain. Most importantly, it should stretch little when it starts to operate.
Previous ropes for small ski lifts have some disadvantages from the lift operator's point of view. They are difficult to splice. In a new version, they show initial elongations of up to five percent. Due to the coarse structure of the rope, there is a certain risk of injury when gripping when the first signs of wear appear. As fiber technology continues to advance, the improvement of small ski lift ropes has stalled.
New rope at the height of fiber technology
This is exactly where the rope technicians from Jakob Rope Systems come in. A new rope at the level of current fiber technology with improved construction and more optimal performance in terms of stretch and grip is to be created. And the Emmentaler have another special feature in mind: 100 percent of the strands and ropes run on production machines in Switzerland. This guarantees a consistently high quality of the rope. Final production and production control take place at Jakob Rope Systems in Trubschachen. From winter 2022, the rope will also be certified according to the European Ropeway Regulation Module H.
In an interview, rope expert Alfred Beer talks about the development of the new ski lift rope from Jakob Rope Systems.
Alfred, the rope is called the Hybrid 5 ski lift rope. What's behind it?
In this rope we mix two fiber types. A supporting HMPE fiber in the strand core and a monofilament-multifilament mixture as the strand sheath. Hence the name Hybrid. The 5 stands for the construction of the rope from five outer strands. This is unusual for ropes in conveyor technology. However, this brings special advantages for our ski lift rope. Firstly, it makes the rope more grippy and it makes it easier to splice the rope into an endless ring on the ski lift.
How did the idea of developing a new ski lift rope come about?
Our fitters were tired of working with the existing cable constructions. Often these cannot be spliced. This means that repairs to the rope or shortening of the rope are almost impossible. That was the impetus to develop something new.
With which approaches did Jakob start the development?
We deliberately sought a departure from the previous structure of the ski lift ropes. We wanted a rope that was easy to splice and had a good grip. To do this, we looked for solutions to ensure the load-bearing capacity of the rope by using other materials. We wanted to reduce stretch and therefore maintenance and increase durability.
How do you develop a rope that is particularly stretch-resistant?
An important difference is that we hit our new ski lift rope with braided strands. This gives us a tighter structure of core and sheathing of the rope, which later stretches less. Many previous ski lift ropes, on the other hand, rely on twisted strands.
100 percent made in Switzerland? What are the benefits?
We produce the ski lift rope at the Swiss site in Trubschachen. This enables us to achieve short distances between the market, development and production of the rope. This enables us to offer our customers a rope product that meets their and our expectations of quality and handling as uncompromisingly as possible. Our supply chain also remains short and largely free of disruptions.
Jakob has set up a test station for the ski lift cable in Trubschachen. Why this?
We have set up the model of a small ski lift. Consisting of a drive station, control cabinet, hour counter, speed controller and counter station for deflecting the rope. This allowed us to simulate how the rope behaves on different small ski lifts. An important aspect of the test was the elongation behavior. The test runs have shown how the rope stretches in use and how different splice knots behave and which of them lasts the longest.
What flows from the tests into the finished rope product?
Elongation, wear, tear. For all of this, we can now provide our customers with documentation on the rope that contains detailed data and information. This makes it easier for ski lift operators to carry out preventive checks on their ski lift ropes. This enables good use of the rope.
Product name: Hybrid 5 ski lift rope
Rope construction: 5 x polyester monofilament multifilament sheath | HMPE core - FC
Minimum breaking force: Ø 16mm - 51 kN
Ø 24mm – 172kN
Length weight: Ø 16mm - 0.17 kg / m
Ø 24mm – 0.40kg/m