Smart Plastics Intelligence for Greater Plant Availability

Monitoring the operating state of all e-chains with just one module...

Predictive maintenance is part of Industry 4.0 and the factory of tomorrow. For this future, igus has developed a family of products under the heading of ‘isense’, where different sensors and monitoring modules make the plastic solutions intelligent. At the Hannover Messe 2017, igus showed new and improved products. These included, for example, isense EC. RC, a new system for monitoring e-chains, the optimised CF.Q module for the intelligent chainflex cables that customers are already using today and the intelligent iglidur PRT slewing ring bearings.

Making production processes easier and more reliable – in order to enable its customers to do this, igus the motion plastics specialist, develops intelligent solutions that warn of potential failure in good time before unplanned and very costly downtimes occur. One year ago, igus presented its first products at Hannover Messe – due to the considerable customer demand, visitors coming to the stand a year later could now experience the new generation of ‘smart plastics’.

Continuous Monitoring for Safe Operation

It monitors the operating status of the e-chains, especially, in guide troughs used on long travel applications. Sensors measure and check the position of the energy chain. In this way, the machine is prevented from continuing to operate when mechanical faults occur, meaning that total loss of the chain or an electrical shutdown (for example, due to cable damage) is a thing of the past. In this way, the isense EC.RC, like all isense products from igus, guards against any unscheduled machine shutdowns.

Further Intelligent Motion Plastics for Diverse Applications

Another new product from the smart plastics family is the EC.M module, which is mounted on the moving end of the chain and automatically records its status, i.e. acceleration, speed, temperature and completed cycles. The distance travelled and the remaining service life of the system can be derived from this. igus has also improved the CF.Q module with which the data of the intelligent chainflex cables are gathered. Due to continuous measurement of the electrical properties, ambient temperature and the number of cycles, a possible failure of the cable is predicted in good time. “Continuous testing in our test laboratory and in customer applications help us to make analysis of the measured values increasingly more precise”, explains Michael Blaß, Head of Sales and Marketing e-chain systems at igus. “Real applications in which we are already using our intelligent products and our chainflex cables include, for example, robot gantries for transportation in automobile factories, where even short unscheduled standstill times result in very large production losses.”

One Module for Many Energy Chains & Cables

Whereas igus presented different isense measuring systems for its linear guides, energy chains and cables last year, the icom communication module, which gathers, and transfers all the values of these systems, was improved at the same time and now communicates mostly without cables. It is even easier to integrate into existing production, one of the reasons being that only a single icom module is needed for several systems. In addition, customers can now connect other manufacturers’ data-generating units which monitor status to the icom module. Igus showed live on the stand, how the operating states of all moving e-chains are measured by only a single icom module. In addition, igus showcased the intelligent iglidur PRT slewing ring bearing, a new member of the smart plastics family. Thanks to an integrated wear sensor, which is mounted in a cut-out niche under the slide elements, the so-called PRT.W sensor (‘W’ for wear) also measures the abrasion so that replacement of the bearing in good time without an unscheduled machine shutdown can be ensured, thus, contributing towards increased security in production.

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