Igus, a German developer of specialist plastics, has unveiled new products to add Industry 4.0 capabilities to its industrial cable, energy chain and linear bearing range.
The company’s ‘motion plastics’ are already widely used in moving applications. The new offerings add sensing, monitoring and communications capabilities to these, Igus said.
This embedded intelligence will serve to boost plant availability, maximise uptime, and reduce costs through condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.
isense continuously monitors the service life of your e-chain, cable or linear guide via measurements and calculations using the parameters of your system
Matthew Aldridge, managing director of Igus
The company already develops what it describes as “high performance engineering plastics” which it says are self-lubricating and maintenance free, as well as being lighter, harder-wearing and more energy efficient than traditional materials.
According to Igus, smart plastics represent the next step for motion plastics by adding the intelligence and networking necessary for Industry 4.0 smart factories of the future.
This would allow intelligent cables, energy chains and linear guides to constantly monitor themselves, providing performance data and early warning of critical wear, the company said.
The two technical enablers rolled out by Igus are its new ‘isense’ and ‘icom’ modules.
Igus said the isense encompassed a range of sensing technologies and monitoring modules that could be networked with a communication module (icom) to provide direct integration with a company’s information technology infrastructure or the Igus data cloud.
Matthew Aldridge, managing director of Igus, said: “isense continuously monitors the service life of your e-chain, cable or linear guide via measurements and calculations using the parameters of your system.
“These measurements are referenced against aggregated test data from the Igus test laboratory... Alerts are sent when measured values exceed thresholds, allowing timely maintenance or replacement.”
He said data could also be shared with Igus, enabling it to provide a range of customised maintenance and asset management-based services.
“In this way, electronic intelligence lowers maintenance costs even further and increases plant availability,” the company said.