The new extruder at Southern Ropes, from Metric Engineering, went into smooth production towards the end of 2023. The M75-31 system is being used for the production of fine denier PE and PP fibre which is then used for downstream rope production. Metric also built the die

Southern Ropes increases extrusion capacity

SOUTHERN Ropes, one of South Africa’s top manufacturers of ropes, recently installed a new extrusion line, opting for a system from Metric Engineering, as it has before.

With its ropes used in a huge range of applications, Southern Ropes’ products have to meet extremely high, zero-tolerance-for-failure standards. It supplies rope to the marine (commercial & leisure), oil & gas, mining, safety & rope access, agriculture, and recovery & lifting sectors to name but a few and manufactures these products at its plant in Woodstock in Cape Town. It has over the years made use of a variety of extruders and other equipment from Metric Engineering, which operates from nearby Paarden Eiland.

The new M75-31 extruder (which replaced a line, also from Metric, that had been used for an extended period) is being used for the production of polyethylene and polypropylene fibre. Metric also built the die. After haul-off from the extruder and water bath cooling, the fibre filaments first go through a stretch process, are then pulled through a compression stage and then onto a series of rotating reels to achieve consistent tension and denier density. The complete installation was supplied by Metric.

The threads are then wound onto bobbins for subsequent braiding into rope.

Southern currently produces ropes from 1,5mm up 74mm. It is a globally competitive operation and, in order for the company to operate at that level, it also imports a number of specialised fibre types which it then weaves and braids into the various rope products it supplies. It produces an astonishing range of rope products, including the use of specialised fibres such as Stealth Fibre®, UHMWPE, Vectran®, Technora® and Zylon® to achieve the many various performance abilities required.

According to Southern Ropes managing director Marcus Twine, the company produces about 0,1% of global rope demand, but with an estimated annual global value of over $8 billion, it is nevertheless a substantial output.

Southern’s focus at present, says Marcus, is to produce value-added rope products, where it splices ropes to form loops or add metal or other attachments for use in specific applications.