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igus® inc.

PO BOX 14349

East Providence

RI 02914

+1 800 521 2747
+1 401 438 7270
igus® inc.

Vice President

East Providence, RI

+1 401 438 2200
+1 401 438 7270

Cable Reel Systems vs. energy chain systems

Cable reels have been used in cranes and other moving machines to manage and distribute cables. These cable reels are often large, slow, and require a lot of maintenance-- something that an energy chain system does without. Below we broke down the differences between cable reel systems and e-chain systems® to help you decide which one will work best for your needs.

Popular Industries:

Theater and stage, Cranes, Bridges and movable structures.


Read the main differences between cable reel systems and e-chain systems®

Cable Reel Systems
igus® e-chain® systems


Adding or Replacing Cables

  • Replacing or adding cables in a cable reel system is a difficult process that causes a lengthy period of downtime.

  • Typical cable reel systems can only manage power and control cables and require special systems for additional cable types, i.e. fiber optics.


  • Replacing and adding cables to an e-chain system® is quick and easy as they are always in a safe and accessible position.

  • With e-chain® all types of cables and hoses can be guided in the same system.


Size Requirements

  • Motorized reels can require more than 20 feet of space to operate.

  • Cable reels have parts that need to be serviced regularly, which can require a crane and specialized training, as well as significant component lead times and costs.

Cable Protection
  • The composite cable used on a cable reel is not protected throughout the length of travel and can be cut or otherwise damaged in the trench or guide system.

igus cable reel  

  • energy chain systems® require only a small vertical window for the cable loop (less than 3 feet is needed).

  • e-chain systems® are virtually maintenance free and can easily be serviced without special equipment, tools or training.

  • Cables and hoses are protected within the energy chain in their own compartment for the entire length of travel, which eliminates the risk of cable failure.


Drive Systems

  • Many large cable reels require a motorized drive system to accomplish retraction, which adds to the complexity and maintenance of the system.

Cable Tension
  • In traditional cable reels there is constant tension on the cables which can result in cable failure.


  • With e-chain® no additional drives and controls are required, as the e-chain® is pushed and pulled by the machine tow arm.

  • When using an e-chain system® there is no added stress on the cables, push pull forces are handled by the e-chain®.

More about e-chain®:
  • e-chain® systems can accomplish travels of up to 2,600ft+ with stock components, at speeds of up to 32.8 feet per second.
  • Heavy fill weights can be carried by e-chain® without problems. Required drive force is significantly reduced through use of igus® rol-e-chain, and fill weights of over 100lbs/ft are easily possible!
  • energy chain® can be easily be configured into thousands of options off the shelf, and upgrading or reconfiguring your chain is easy!