In 1953 German machine builder Waldrich Siegen G.m.b.H. was working to rebuild after the devastation of World War II. Employed at the company as director of engineering was Dr. Gilbert Wanninger. He noticed the company's massive machinery would be improved if there was a way to manage all of its power and control cables. The main challenge was organizing the long lengths of cable that moved with mechanisms from a stationary point. After two full years on the task, Wanninger developed a hollow steel chain in which cables rode safely while being guarded against outside influences.
Dr. Oskar Waldrich, the owner of Waldrich Siegen that rebuilt the company after its destruction during the war, was so impressed that he soon had the carrier system installed on all of the company's machinery. The dynamic carrier system was first used on huge roll-grinders and machining centers in the factory. It was not long before other industrialists realized its value and sought its use in their own machinery. The cable and hose management system was born.
Waldrich obtained a patent for the technology and, in 1954, opened Kabelschlepp, which means “cable drag” in German, to further develop the new product. The company continues to produce cable carrier systems at this worldwide headquarters in Siegen, Germany, and has nine facilities worldwide, including its American headquarters in Milwaukee.
In 1963, Wanninger and Waldrich redesigned the system to make it lighter while still serving in heavy-duty operations. Throughout the 1970s, Wanniger maintained a hands-on approach to the evolution of cable carriers, overseeing changes to the modular frame stay and modular plastic chain, constantly improving them to make something lighter and more flexible. In 1967, the company made the Mono-Series, a nylon chain for automation applications.
In 1999, Kabelschlepp developed the Quantum, made of polypropylene for less vibration and noise. The most recent development, the Robotrax in 2002, is capable of three-dimensional movement and is modeled after the human spine.
Wanninger's and Waldrich's vision is still seen in the marketplace today, with Kabelschlepp's second design still being the most popular and the one most emulated by competitors.
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