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Rope Runner issues deeper than mis-configuration

Rope Runner issues deeper than mis-configuration

Richard Tregoweth - Monday, August 10, 2015

Recently Treetools published some photographs on Facebook highlighting possible configuration issues with the Singing Tree Rope Runner.

For those who do not know, the Singing Tree Rope Runner is a rope technician’s friction control device for ascending and descending on a single line. The Rope Runner was designed by Kevin Bingham of Rope Wrench fame.

In the accompanying FB editorial we stated the Rope Runner “is not manufactured to any recognised standard or certification for New Zealand tree work’

Tony Knight and Jerry Lynch both questioned our use of words.

Tony thought a more accurate description might be ‘that the rope runner hasn't been officially tested to any recognised standard or certification’ and Jerry asked, if it was tested, what standard could the Rope Runner be tested to.

The answer to Jerry’s question can be found in a previous blog post regarding the now infamous Petzl ZigZag so we won’t go into that here.

Manufacturing standards for the Rope Runner?

As far as Treetools is aware Tony is correct when he says the Rope Runner has not been officially ‘tested’ to any recognised standard or certification.

But the same can be said about its’ manufacturing process.

The purpose of a standard is to ensure that a product is safe, reliable and of good quality.

“A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.”

Obviously, in order for a product to reach a specific manufacturing standard you need to know who is actually making the product.

In the case of the Rope Runner the source of manufacturing is a grey area.

Who actually makes the Rope Runner?

Some Rope Runner users were surprised to learn their device was not hand-made by its designer, Kevin Bingham. (Singing Tree appears to endorse this fact in their 2013 promotional video on YouTube).

The ‘markings’ on the Rope Runner say Singing Tree but that does not necessarily mean the brand owner makes them.

Manufacturing source is somewhat vague but it appears Singing Tree did indeed make a few batches of the Rope Runner.

Then CMI made some and others were engineered by an un-named Indianapolis-based machine shop with offsite assembly by online store workers (the same online store happens to market the device internationally).

CMI is recognised as a manufacturer with a proud ‘made in America’ heritage but using a local, un-named machine shop with retail store assembly is certainly a little bit unusual, at least for PPE.

The various ‘batches’ of Rope Runner can be identified by their production colour; red, gold, black and now blue.

To Treetools knowledge none of the production runs have stated the manufacturer and yet each batch has produced different quality consistency in terms of finish, wear and performance.

This fact has only come to light because Rope Runner users around the world have noticed the discrepancies in production… and aired their opinion on social media.

Caveat Emptor. Let The Buyer Beware. Now with PPE.

Oddly, Singing Tree include a quote from Treemagineer Mark Bridge in closing Section 6 ‘Inspection and Additional Information’ of the Rope Runner Instructions.

Mark’s quote says “Surely when it comes to safety, it cannot be a bad idea to get things right, to be really sure that you have gone the extra mile to ensure that you have worked through at least the most obvious pitfalls that a technique or a tool may present and are using them in the best and safest way possible.”

Singing Tree, or whoever owns the rights to the production of the Rope Runner, should take heed of the words they so proudly quote.

Apart from the configuration issues highlighted on the Treetools FB page one of the ‘most obvious pitfalls’ would be lack of consistency in the manufacturing process.

If rope technicians cannot be certain exactly what they are going to get for their money, and their safety, something is very wrong indeed.

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