Machine failures and downtimes are among the biggest cost drivers in industry. It is therefore important for maintenance personnel to prevent unplanned downtime in good time. With the new low-cost service life sensor from Igus, users can now make their e-chain smart from as little as 248 euros. Thanks to real-time condition monitoring, maintenance over the entire service life becomes easier to plan, simpler and less expensive. This not only brings decisive advantages in the area of e-chains, but also offers new possibilities for condition monitoring in many other wear applications.
Internet of Things, Big Data and autonomous robots: The transformation to Industry 4.0 is in full swing. This also affects components that work in machines and have long since become smart, for example by providing data on their condition. But integrating smart technologies is often complex for companies and involves external installation work. "We've also found that while online services are very popular in the private sphere, there is a lot of sensitivity to external data connections in the business environment. For example, the IoT connection of a machine in production is often not wanted. However, the customer does not want to do without smart functionalities and integration into existing control systems," explains Richard Habering, head of the smart plastics business unit at Igus .
This is precisely where Igus comes in with the new i.Sense EC.W lifetime sensor for gliding e-chain systems. The low-cost sensor product enables cost-effective real-time wear detection starting at just 248 euros and, thanks to integrated floating contacts, can be connected directly to the PLC machine control system without an Internet connection. Included are the sensor, the cable and the evaluation electronics. Users also have the option of connecting the sensor to a variety of networks and IoT systems via i.Cee module and thus integrating it into a predictive maintenance concept. The service life sensor is available for the igus E4.32, E4.42, E4.56 and E4.80 e-chains - further sizes for the E4Q, E2.1 and E2/000 series are already being planned.
Determining service life quickly and easily - even remotely
The basic principle of the new low-cost sensor system is simple: conductive elements are inserted into the high-performance polymers of almost all Igus products at the tribologically stressed points. By clever, geometric positioning of these elements, clear statements can be made about the percentage product service life condition in the event of an electrical interruption or change in resistance. This information can be easily output to the operator via the system monitor and, for example, linked to a note on pending chain replacement when the 25 percent level is reached.
The i.Sense EC.W sensor offers considerable added value, especially for harsh, dark and dirty environments, as well as in highly frequented or difficult-to-access applications. It is mounted on the last opening bar on the fixed point side and detects the current condition of the chain side parts. The sensor measures the distance between the opening bars, which decreases in the same proportion as the wear of the e-chain side plates. With the help of the sensor, every wear part of a machine can thus be monitored remotely - which could also benefit many other motion plastics in the future.
Save 80 percent on costs through planned maintenance
Condition-based alarms can prevent unplanned downtime or unnecessary or premature chain replacement - which also offers an advantage in terms of sustainability. For example, e-chains are no longer replaced based on maintenance intervals, but only when necessary - which ultimately also reduces maintenance costs. When connected directly to the plant control system, users can save up to 80 percent in costs by using the lifetime sensor.
To ensure the best possible product quality, Igus carries out numerous test series in the world's largest test laboratory in the industry. For energy chains alone, over three billion test cycles are recorded and analyzed each year. With the help of these tests, Igus products are continuously optimized and further developed. For example, the development engineers have extremely miniaturized the size of the service life sensor to 2.5mm x 4mm, so that measurements can also be taken at other locations and clear status information can be generated for almost all gliding applications. In conjunction with the Igus service life calculators, there are thus no limits to the possibilities.