Cables on the move

Although the cable and hose-carrying systems developed and built at the Milwaukee KabelSchlepp Inc. facility can be found in use around the world, they are seldom noticed by most people.

The company’s systems are used on sliding CT and X-ray machines, ticketing machines and ATMs, DNA and blood checking machines, sliding minivan doors, large machine tools like CNCs, lathes and robotics, and even land-based telescopes.

“It’s anywhere you have cables and hoses in motion,” said Stephan Achs, president and chief technical officer of KabelSchlepp America. “Where you need an umbilical between two points to safely guide hoses, cables and components, that’s what we do.”

Some of the largest systems designed and built by KabelSchlepp’s North American headquarters in Milwaukee help supply fuel and energy to Naval vessels as large as aircraft carriers. Others are used with oil and gas processing equipment.

“Envision an oil derrick,” Achs said. “We can have a cable carrier on the X and Y axis so it can move over the different well heads on a switch. Those can carry 30,000 PSI (pound per square inch) hoses, with links that are up to a meter tall.”

KabelSchlepp America is a division of KabelSchlepp G.m.b.H., a privately held German firm with several global manufacturing operations. The company was founded in 1953, after the invention and patent of the first dynamic cable carrying system.

“We pioneered the industry,” Achs said. “Our invention spawned a global industry in 1953.”

KabelSchlepp offers cable carrying systems in four categories: steel chains; plastic or nylon links; hybrid systems; and three-dimensional systems, which are often used on robotics in manufacturing facilities.

Earlier this decade, the company began manufacturing its own line of cables and hoses, which are specially designed to move within its cable carrying systems. When a client purchases hoses and cables from the company, KabelSchlepp will often assemble the system before it is shipped, Achs said.

KabelSchlepp’s diverse base of customers and its value-added services have helped the company’s North American division continue to grow despite current economic challenges. The company expects more than 10-percent revenue growth this year and is cautiously optimistic about 2009.

“We’re getting into green technologies like wind and solar power and nuclear power,” Achs said. “Those are areas we see huge growth (potential) in.”

The company has more than 15 injection molding, machining and sorting machines operating around the clock, with only a handful of employees operating them.

Early next year, KabelSchlepp will install a new series of automated steel stamping and related machinery, Achs said.

“This is multi million dollar investment in machinery,” he said. “The human investment will be more measured – we’re trying to limit our investment in humans. Automation is the way to go.”  n

KabelSchlepp America Inc.

Address: 7100 W. Marcia Road, Milwaukee

Industry: Cable and hose carriers

Employees: More than 50

Revenue Growth: More than 10 percent for 2008

Web site:

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