Technology and Quality In Chain Manufacturing: An Insider’s Look

December 16, 2020


We recently had the honor of presenting how we use technology in our quality process at the  Association of Wire Rope Fabricators (AWRF) virtual trade show. In the presentation, we showed off a few of the tools we’ve developed to ensure our chain’s safety and performance: the Hololens mixed reality device and our Chainspection data collection and tracking system. One of our customers, Bob Truett from Western Sling, also joined us to witness a live destruction test of his Grade 100 Hi-Viz chain!


Hololens Mixed Reality

We rolled out the Hololens mixed reality devices to put documentation close at hand for our maintenance and quality teams and allow our customers to look through our inspectors’ eyes. The headsets are safety-rated for industrial environments and can display chain drawings within the viewing field while our team members measure chain to ensure it meets requirements. 


Chain Manufacturing Process

In the presentation, we showed the end-to-end chain making process, pointing out key quality checkpoints along the way and showing how data is captured and stored in our proprietary Chainspection software. Starting with the raw material received by our plant, we track every step in the chain manufacturing process in our system. We followed our product from link formation, to calibration, to heat treating, to testing, pointing out how we collect data at each step of the process.


Live Destruction Test

We destroy chain in our house, so it doesn’t destroy your reputation! Our customer Bob Truett, vice president of Western Sling, joined us via Zoom to see us pull a sample of his Grade 100 Hi-Viz yellow chain to destruction. Using the Hololens, Phil Braymen (engineering director at Laclede’s Maryville plant) demonstrated how we use the mixed reality technology to compare chain measurements taken live in the plant with the engineering drawings containing the specifications. He then conducted a live destruction test of the chain, where the Grade 100 Hi-Viz yellow exceeded the NACM standard of 35,200 pounds. Phil showed the data captured by our system and discussed why the end shear break exhibited by the chain is the ideal failure for the product. 


As Bob mentioned in the video, the Hololens helps us give our customers a firsthand look at the testing of their chain when travel to our plant may not be possible. It is just one example of how our team at Laclede uses technology to help our customers (and people everywhere) live and work more securely. 

We closed the presentation with a live question and answer session to discuss how powder coating affects break strength, testing procedures, and more. To learn more and see our entire presentation, check out the video from the session! We are thankful to AWRF for allowing us to participate and showcase the work our team is doing.