Lightening the load with synthetic rope
SYNTHETIC ROPES HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE, THOUGH only a small number of contractors are actually using them on yarders in applications like strawlines and guylines.
But a New Zealand supplier says there is a case for synthetic ropes to be more widely used, given the increased emphasis on health and safety in the workplace.
“There’s a lot of weight in steel wire and it’s tough for the young guys trying to drag a strawline over steep ground to reach the tailhold – to the point that it is almost a health and safety issue,” says Steve Middleton, of Total Rope Worx NZ Ltd, which distributes Dyneema synthetic ropes to various industries in this country, including forestry.
“You really feel for those young guys struggling with heavy ropes. And the thing is, it doesn’t have to be like that.
“Synthetic ropes are a fraction of the weight of wire ropes and while they cost more, they can be set up much quicker, so the yarder can get to work quickly and be earning money, which can more-than make up for the price difference.”
Mr Middleton says there is also a misconception that synthetic ropes are difficult to install and may not last as long as wire ropes.
Prior to establishing Top Rope Worx NZ, he was involved in the marine industry for more than 29 years and has considerable synthetic rope knowledge and extensive synthetic rope splicing experience and saw how well synthetic ropes performed as towlines on large tug boats.
“They’re strong alright,” he says, adding that the 28mm Diameter Adjustable Guylines have a 57.69-tonne minimum breaking load. Dyneema size for size is eight-times lighter than steel wire and on a weight-for-weight basis Dyneema is 15 times stronger than steel wire. Dyneema also has a Specific Gravity of 0.97 which means it floats on water! Being light, strawlines can even be flown to the backline by a suitable drone.
Furthermore, Total Rope Worx has obtained Oregon State University documentation of Dyneema forestry trials carried out in the Pacific North West to back up the product performance.
When Mr Middleton left the marine industry to set up Total Rope Worx NZ he established a relationship with leading UK rope manufacturer, Marlow Ropes, to become its sole distributor of Dyneema in New Zealand, with forestry seen as one of the main industry targets.
“We are very aware of the health and safety issues in the NZ Forest Industry,” says Mr Middleton. “So right from the start we worked with WorkSafe NZ to ensure our Dyneema rope products where up to code and approved. We have a splicing service that has WorkSafe NZ approved and certified Dyneema rope splicers.”
“We also offer a product back-up service onsite, inducting crews on how to use the Dyneema products, and we teach two crew members in the crew how to splice.”
“All our products are tagged with all the required rope information (type of rope, ISO number, MBL, who spliced it, and when, plus Total Rope Worx NZ contact details). We also supply a booklet with each product which provides all the information needed about the Dyneema products.”
Mr Middleton says Dyneema is not only ideally suited to use as Strawline and Guylines but can also be used in setting up tail and intermediate spars, and his company also supplies stump/ block strops, skyline extensions, bulldozer/skidder winchlines, soft shackles and logging truck tow ropes made from Dyneema.
Above: Spencer Hill stands by a 28mm Dyneema adjustable guyline.
Left: Jason Hogan, from Gibbs & Olsen Logging with a 10mm strawline attached to the crew’s backline dozer.