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The last thing anyone wants to hear is that their cables have failed. Operations have to come to a halt and every minute that passes is costing you money and operation resources. While you cannot turn back time, you can prevent future costly downtime by understanding why your cable has failed and how to prevent them. Selecting the appropriate cable from a wide array of instrumentation cable types in Singapore for your specific industrial environment is vital to your operation and extending the life of your cables, so let’s look at six common types of cable failure modes.


1. Conductor malfunctions

Open Conductor: When conductors are broken or severed, continuity is lost. Possible causes include excessive cable tension, inappropriate or a too-tight bend radius, or repetitive and excessive flexing over a small bend radius or tick-tock motion.

High Resistance of Conductor: A stranded conductor will probably first result in individual strands breaking before the conductor as a whole severs. The conductor’s resistance rises as individual strands break. This may result in one of two potential failure modes: 1) The conductor strands will keep breaking until they completely separate; or 2) The greater resistance will start to generate heat and eventually overheat, resulting in a localised burn point and a conductor break.

2. Insulation failures

Cracks and perforations in the insulation material are examples of insulation failure types. Constant bending over a small radius might lead to cracks in insulating material. The insulation material wears down and eventually stops working. Conductor strands that start to break or sever can puncture the insulation wall, leading to the perforation of the insulation material.

3. Shielding defects

Foil Shields: When subjected to frequent bending/flexing actions, foil shields have a tendency to degrade over time. As the foil shields begin to crack, the cable’s intended use for them is lost.

Copper braid shields: On the other hand, copper braid shields are susceptible to mechanical fatigue, particularly when subjected to torsional or twisting motion.

4. Jacket Failures

The inner conductors and cable parts are shielded from the outside environment by jacketing. Thus, the jacketing suffers the most damage from mechanical, chemical, and weather-related factors as they are the only parts of the wire that gets exposed to external wear-and-tear should they be doing their job.

Cracking/Swelling: The material of the jacket may react negatively when exposed to specific oils, chemicals, or fluids. This might cause the jacketing to swell up and become soft and easily ripped or rigid and brittle. 

Abrasion: When the outer jacket wears through, the cable core is exposed. This kind of failure happens more often when the cable is used in applications that will wear it down, such as experiencing constant high-tension motion or through wear-and-tear of external material and weather conditions. This might also happen if the cable is dragged over the ground, used in a way that constantly rubs up against it, or is installed incorrectly on equipment.

Cut-through/Cuts: The jacket may sustain cuts as a result of impact or contact with sharp objects. The performance of cables is often unaffected by small, superficial cuts on the jacket. Cuts that affect the performance of the jacket or go all the way through to the shield or cable core warrant either cable replacement or repair.

5. Failures in Corkscrewing

Excessive Tension – Excessive cable tension might result in conductors being yanked off their “lay.” Conductors that have been taken out of their lay are no longer properly arranged within the cable build, which will cause the cable to start corkscrewing. The cable core could pierce the jacket as a result of this. 

Bend Radius: A bend radius that is too small can cause the cable to corkscrew. It’s crucial to adhere to the minimum bend radius advised by cable manufacturers.

Cables can corkscrew if there is insufficient space between them during installation. Corkscrewing could happen if the cables are not given enough room to move around freely in the track.

Cable Alignment: The cable may bend if it is not properly aligned inside an application, such as when using many pulleys.


While there are many factors that can inevitably lead to your cables requiring replacement before their time, we understand that there might be too much for individual business owners to consider. That is why we recommend for experts to come into the picture.

Not only will they be able to identify the right wires and cables for each intended use and purpose, they will also be able to install them as per industry standards to minimise extraneous factors leading to degradation and wear and tear. If you are unsure or aren’t trained in wiring and cabling solutions, fret not, as Cable Source has years of experience supplying control cables as a cable company in Singapore.