Capabilities: Carriers guide and protect cable and hoses from abrasion, snagging, and overbending during machine movement. In many applications, design parameters are well within off-the-shelf injection-molded polymer carrier capabilities. Elsewhere, custom carriers are made of steel or hybrid construction to withstand UV rays, heat and cold, submersion, abrasives, industrial fluids, caustic washdown, long travel, and high acceleration and duty cycle. Carriers are more versatile than festoons, reels, or conductor bars: They can be mounted anywhere along a machine's travel, and only have to be installed over half the travel in center-mounted applications.

Problems: Like other standard industrial components, carriers are often deemed low-priority items on a bill of materials, and price and delivery are the only criteria used for their selection. However, an inappropriate carrier can quickly cost more than its initial cost if failure becomes chronic or noticeable by the end user. (In less noticeable locations, carrier degradation can go unnoticed and lead to catastrophic failure.)

Selection: Good operation goes beyond failure prevention. The designer or carrier manufacturer should use relevant information available upfront to match carriers to the application; for critical applications, selection should be a team effort. Most manufacturers provide web design assistance including design configuration and automatic 2D or 3D drawing files.

For more information, contact A&A Manufacturing Co. Inc., New Berlin, Wis., at (262) 786-1500 or visit www.gortite.com.