Cable Take Up Machines: An Introduction for Every Industry


Manufacturers of cable and wire are always looking for ways to fill orders faster and more safely, which often boils down to one type of equipment: cable take up machines. Available in a wide range of designs and configurations, these devices rotate cable wheels to fill them with product, automating what would otherwise be a labor-intensive and ergonomically disastrous task.

Cable Take Up Machines An Introduction for Every Industry

But these reel fillers aren’t just for cable and wire providers. Electrical wholesalers must fill reels quickly, too. Electricians may fill a reel for a single job from a larger stock of cable or wire. And warehouse operations that handle rope, chain, and other flexible materials also need a quick, safe way to move product from a master reel onto smaller reels for delivery.

Given the widespread need to fill spools and reels—both for electrical products and other coilable materials—now’s a good time to review the essential equipment at the heart of filling these orders. Here’s a quick introduction to cable take up machines.

Looking for a cable take up machine that leverages the power of big data? Learn about the Spool Winding Trolley - Industrial Internet of Things.

3 Main Types of Cable Take Up Machines

One way to categorize cable take up machines is by the method of connection between the reel and the device that rotates the wheel. Typically, that falls into one of three options:

  1. Shafted take up machines rotate the shaft, which in turn rotates the reel—either through compression that keeps the reel moving with the shaft, or with a coupling that locks the reel to the shaft. Note that this design requires users to mount a take-up reel on an axle, adding to set-up time when filling orders.
  2. Shaftless take up machines skip the step of mounting the reel onto an axle. They support and hold the reel with two posts on either end, omitting the need for a removable axle. This still requires operators to move reels from storage racks onto the take up machine, so there’s still considerable set-up required—unless you choose a portable reel-filling machine like the BHS Spooling Caddy, which locks onto virtually any cable or wire reel with an adjustable-height rotator, filling reels without removing them from jack stands.
  3. Rim drive take up machines rotate the reel through contact with the flanges—the rim of the reel, hence the term “rim drive.” Most rim drive take ups place the rotational connection point to the side of the reel; that means they also have to be loaded.

Parallel Reel Payout System

You may notice that all three of these designs need loading. Operators have to move a cable reel onto the machines, then remove the filled reels for delivery—or, better yet, to be loaded onto jack stands, Parallel Reel Payouts, or highly mobile Parallel Reel Payout Wagons to create a ready-to-go delivered solution. Given the size and weight of industrial cable reels, all that loading and unloading creates safety risks while also limiting productivity. The question is: What’s the solution?

Overhead Rim Drive Cable Reeling Equipment

A fourth type of take up machine flips the reel-filling process to remove the set-up and removal time. Overhead rim drive reeling equipment rotates flanges, like any rim drive machine—but it does so from the top, not from the side or bottom. Instead of loading reels onto the take up machine, an overhead rim drive device fills cable reels on the very jack stands that will ship to the final user.

You still have to put an empty reel onto a stand—but there’s no need to remove it when it’s filled, at least not when you’re shipping a delivered solution (and every distributor should consider delivered solutions).

The Spool Winding Trolley from BHS features just such a design. The overhead rim drive saves both time and labor in all reel-filling tasks—especially for cut-to-length wire distribution. And this cable take up machine doesn’t stop with efficiency; it also counts linear footage during pay out, allows you to fill multiple reels at once, and adjusts roller size to fill reels of virtually any size.

Learn more about the Spool Winding Trolley here.

There’s even a model that’s wired for the Industrial Internet of Things. The SWT-IIoT ships with a cloud-based dashboard that allows managers to pre-program jobs. Staff access orders through an integrated touchscreen. And the system collects data during every use, streamlining order management and inventory tracking to provide powerful operational insights.

This is the future of cable take up machines, and no matter what industry you’re in, it can provide measurable benefits—and a terrific ROI. To learn more about cable handling solutions from BHS, Inc., contact our sales team at 1.800.BHS.9500 today.