MULETAPE v Rope : Pulling Cables Into Cable Ducts To Avoid Duct Cutting

Published 27 Feb 2019


Manufacturers of MULETAPE

  • uploaded by Chris Dodds - Thorne & Derrick Sales/Marketing Manager

Burn Through

The Case for MULETAPE vs. Rope

NEPTCO is a global leader in the manufacturing of materials used for the Detection & Pulling of Cables for a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications.

In this Blog, NEPTCO answer questions regarding their advanced specification MULETAPE which includes a comparison to using traditional cable pulling ropes.

neptco muletape cable pullingNEPTCO’s range of measuring and pulling tapes substantially reduce cable installation labour, materials and stock holding costs by providing a threading line, a measuring tape and a winch line all in one product – this reduces damage to underground plants, improves efficiency and enhances worker safety.

Q: What is “burn through?”

A: When polypropylene rope is pulled through PVC or polyethylene duct, the friction generated by the rope rubbing against the conduit wall creates enough heat to actually “burn through” the cable ducting or conduit – this can occur with or without cable lubricant

MULETAPE cable pulling

“Burn Through” caused by the friction from cable pulling rope.

Q: Why should this matter to me?

A: Aside from damaging the conduit or cable duct and creating opportunities, the jagged edges of the burned conduit pose a real threat to the cable installed by the contractor.

Cable surging through the damaged conduit or duct at an average rate of 100 ft. per minute will catch on the damaged areas of conduit, shredding the outer jacket. Fibre Optic cables are particularly vulnerable since the situation which can lead to excess tension and can cause micro-bending. As a result, the cable may fail prematurely, or simply not function at all.

Cable Surging

A damaged cable as a result of using cable pulling rope.

Q: How does NEPTCO know these things happen? After all, you can’t see what’s happening underground!

A: NEPTCO has gone to great lengths to test this theory by duplicating installation conditions in the lab and in the field. Their research engineers designed the Duct Cut Tester to evaluate the performance of various conduit materials and winch lines under typical installation conditions.

The results tabulated on the reverse side of this sheet are conclusive: pre-lubricated MULETAPE out-performs polypropylene rope in every installation scenario.

Q: Why does MULETAPE work so much better than cable pulling rope?

A: MULETAPE is pre-lubricated, which helps reduce friction and the heat it generates, but MULETAPE’s wide and flat profile is also important. A round rope will concentrate all heat and energy on the small area where the rope comes in contact with the innerduct. MULETAPE is flat, and therefore spreads this heat and energy across a wider area, reducing the chance of burn through.

NEPTCO Muletape variety muletape cable pulling
MULETAPE by NEPTCO | Cable Pulling


NEPTCO Duct Cut Tester

NEPTCO Duct Cut Tester

The charts below indicate the time elapsed before conduit experiences damage due to burn through:

Duct Cutting in Corrugated 1.5” ID HDPE Subduct
Duct Cutting in Corrugated 1.5” ID HDPE Subduct
Duct Cutting in Smooth Walled 1.5” ID HDPE Subduct
Duct Cutting in Smooth Walled 1.5 ID HDPE Subduct
Duct Cutting in Corrugated 1.5” ID PVC SubductDuct Cutting in Corrugated 1.5” ID PVC Subduct Duct Cutting in 2” Schedule 40 PVC 90° Subduct


Q: Okay, I understand that burn through is a problem, but I’m still not convinced this is really happening in the field. Do you have any evidence that cable can actually be damaged in a real installation?

A: Absolutely. If you have ever experienced a rope breaking during a pull, it is caused by the cable getting snagged on a duct that has been burned through.  The rope is usually narrower than the cable and pulling sock and is able to make its way back into the duct, however, because the cable and pulling sock are wider they may not be able to make their way back into the duct.  When this happens, the tension rises, the pull becomes more difficult and the rope may break.  This not only causes a health and safety hazard, the possibility that the cable is damaged is extremely high.  In 1999, NEPTCO recreated a typical installation scenario in an above-ground test. The results were just as expected – the rope burned through the conduit in seconds, while the MULETAPE caused no damage.

To request a video of this experiment in CD or VHS format, please contact

MULETAPE Features & Benefits

  • Eliminates the potential for cable duct cutting
  • Lower elongation reduces snap-back and enhances
  • Worker safety reduces tension at the start of a cable pull
  • Sequential footage or metric markings
  • Reduces material, inventory and freight costs
  • Cable pulling strength – 200 lbs. to 6000 lbs
  • Patent pending


MULETAPE Ordering Information

Item MULETAPE Part Number Strength (kg) Typical Bowline Strength (kg) Typical Muleknot Strength (kg) Pail Quantity (km) Approx Pail Weight (kg) Pails Per Pallet
41271 WP400P 182 86 136 1.4 6 27
41325 WP1800P 818 377 636 0.4 6.4 27

Request Your FREE MULETAPE Sample

Our products substantially reduce cable installation labor, materials, and inventory costs by providing a threading line, a measuring tape, and a winch line all in one product. Reduces damage to underground plants, improves efficiency, and enhances worker safety.

You can’t miss this opportunity if you are a Utility Company or a Contractor.  Weather you are looking for pulling tapes, or a tracer wire, before you invest a large amount, we are giving you the option to see our products look and feel. You can select from:

  • Mule Tape
  • Detectable Mule Tape
  • 3 in 1
  • Trace Safe System

Click the following link

  • Industry: Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing
  • Company Size: 201-500 Employees
  • Headquarters: Pawtucket, Rhode Island USA
  • Company Type: Public Company Founded 1953
  • Specialities: Coating and lamination of films and foils, printing of narrow width identification tapes and pulling and detection tapes for underground application


Approved Suppliers & Vendors To TfL & London Underground

LV, MV & HV Jointing, Earthing, Substation & Electrical Eqpt

Thorne & Derrick International are specialist distributors of LV, MV & HV Cable Installation, Jointing, Duct Sealing, Substation & Electrical Equipment – servicing UK and global businesses involved in cable installations, cable jointing, substation, overhead line and electrical construction at LV, 11kV, 33kV and EHV.

THORNE & DERRICK Product Categories: Duct Seals | Cable Cleats | Cable Glands | Electrical Safety | Arc Flash Protection | Cable Jointing Tools | Cable Pulling | Earthing | Feeder Pillars | Cable Joints LV | Joints & Terminations MV HV