As the main function of cable reels is to wind and unwind the electrical cable, there are many different retraction options available for cable reels. However, the main breakdown between retraction options is manual and mechanical. A manual cable reel has no automatic retraction mechanism but is equipped with a hand-turned crank.
For mechanical cable reels on the other hand, a motor powers the retraction mechanism through electric, hydraulic or pneumatic means. Also, a cable reel can have a spring-based retraction method, in which an internal spring is used to retract the cable. Cable reels are utilized in many industries for equipment such as conveyor systems, various types of overhead cranes, forklifts, forestry equipment, garage doors, hoists, material handling systems, robotic welding cells, theatrical and stage sets, aerial work platforms and light towers.
The construction of different cable reels can vary in a vast number of ways, according to the specific requirements of the intended application. For example, cable reels are typically made of such materials as wood, steel, stainless steel and plastic. Wooden cable reels come in three main varieties: steel-tyred, export, and one-way drums.
Plywood cable reels, conversely, are a less expensive alternative and are fabricated from either birch or poplar ply. As an environmentally-friendly alternative, plastic cable reels are most commonly manufactured from recycled plastics, rather than newly formed plastics. Cable reels are divided into five different configurations, including portable, live connection, collapsible, storage reel, and reel and cable assembly.
While portable cable reels can be transported by hand with the use of an attached handle, live connection reels are able to transmit power while on the reel. Although live connection cables can be expensive and heavy, they have advantages for applications. Collapsible reels fold flat and are useful for storage. Storage reels are meant purely for storage, and cannot be used unless the cable is unwound. The final type, reel and cable assembly, contains a wire, reel, and other items.