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Looking to eliminate downtime? Apply smart plastics for predictive maintenance

A milestone in maintenance: Smart plastics detect a need for maintenance

The intelligent smart plastic products of the isense family of products include a smart sensor for condition monitoring and continuous measurement of pushing and pulling forces (EC. P – Push/pull detection) as well as a sensor for detection of any chain link breakage (EC.B – Break detection). For moving chainflex® cables, the service life can be predicted exactly until expiry of the period indicated in the warranty specifications. For the time after this, a sensor with the name CF.Q (Cable Fracture/Quality) has been developed. Detection of the electrical parameters make it possible to estimate the remaining service life.
For status measurements such as acceleration or temperatures, the EC. M (Motion) can be used, the measured values of which are the basis for further more complex calculations. The type PRT.W (Wear) sensor provides information concerning wear on slewing ring bearings . For all linear drives, the DL.W (Wear) sensor delivers information on wear in good time for measures to be taken. These measured values are only a fraction of what makes the isense product family a strong and smart tool for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) & Industry 4.0. These sensors become especially effective due to their linkage with the icom module – a data concentrator –, that can transfer the measured values to a system of the isense product family.

The smart sensors at a glance:

iCOM: the data concentrator

iCOM: the data concentrator

The following sensors become especially effective due to their linkage with the icom module.

A data concentrator – that can transfer the measured values to a system of the isense product family. How the sensor data can be further processed depends on the respective system chosen. igus® currently offers four variants.

EC. M: e-chains® movement & EC. W: e-chains® abrasion

EC. M: e-chains® movement & EC. W: e-chains® abrasion

Always in motion: EC.M sensor makes this possible

To record the data the EC.M sensor is installed on the moving end of the energy chain. It detects values such as acceleration, speed, temperature and completed cycles, and, from them, determines the distances completed as well as the remaining service life of the system. Wear detection with the EC. W sensorAn abrasion sensor measures the wear, depending on the product, at the crossbar, at the pin/bore connection or at the liners and sends a signal when the limit is reached.

EC. I: Integrated

EC. I: Integrated

Non-contact wear measurement

For roller chains, e.g. series P4, the pin/bore connection is the mechanically most stressed component. Integrated directly in the chain link, the EC.I sensor measures the percentage wear of the pin/bore connection without contact and in this way enables the timely planning of replacement or repair.

EC. P: Push/pull detection

EC. P: Push/pull detection

The forces are critical: EC.P sensor measures push/pull

Use of the EC. P sensor saves maintenance personnel from having to travel many kilometers - thanks to its status information always being available and which can automatically be passed on to the isense system. The principle has been successfully used as the so-called push/pull detector system by igus® for 14 years.

EC.B: e-chains® breakage

EC.B: e-chains® breakage

Chain breakage as an easily solvable problem

The EC.B break detection sensor from igus® reduces the amount of work of maintenance technicians tasked with looking after crane installations and gantries. This applies from classical smaller indoor cranes in production facilities right up to the huge cranes used in ship-building. The EC.B sensor can detect breakage of a chain link caused by parts falling into the system or similar. In the past, this problem was often a critical factor in the failure of a crane as breakage of a chain link automatically leads to overloading and failure of the opposite side.

CF.Q: chainflex® quality

CF.Q: chainflex® quality

Hidden cable damage detected by CF.Q sensor at an early stage

The CF.Q sensor indicates changes in the electrical properties; and allows detection of impending cable failure in advance. The electrician then decides what priority the replacement of a cable has and what the consequences of a defect might be.

CF.P: Push/pull detection

CF.P: Push/pull detection

Easy life for the cables

Tensile forces acting on the cables of an e-chain system® can significantly reduce the service life! The CF.P system measures the forces directly at the strain relief and indicates the need for action in a timely manner.

EC. RC: Run Control

EC. RC: Run Control

Monitoring the operating status of the e-chains®, especially in guide troughs on long travels.

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 due to cable damage are a thing of the past.

DLT.W: wear measurement

DLT.W: wear measurement

Used to detect when the wear limit of a drylin® linear unit

has reached a level normally associated with the end of the guide‘s service life. A plastic element that has an integrated sensor and can be retrofitted, signals the need for replacement in good time.

PRT. W: Wear measurement

PRT. W: Wear measurement

To determine the wear limit of iglide® slewing ring bearings. Mounted in a milled slot below the sliding elements

Mounted in a milled slot below the sliding elements of the PRT, the PRT. W sensor measures the wear and tear and can indicate the required replacement promptly via the icom communication module before a cable failure.

Smart Plastics integration into your own infrastructure

isense stand-alone

isense stand-alone system

Keep production free of problems "the easy way"

Simply by integrating a machine programmer

Sensors (EC.B break, CF.Q – cable monitoring) on e-chains® and cables acquire the measured values

Machinery can be switched off in two ways: directly by means of the NC contact or through evaluation via an I/O interface of the customer's PLC

Customers can arrange for the data to be sent to them via a serial interface (RS2322/UART) so that they can evaluate the data themselves.

isense offline

isense offline system

Keep track of things at all times in large halls

An additional industrial PC is needed to display the messages via the customer's intranet.

No connection to the Internet and therefore no comparison of the maintenance recommendations with an online database

Manual update of service life information through comparison with the igus® database necessary. Good overview on the IPC: All impending failures in the production environment are displayed

Ideal for production managers and shift supervisors who are interested in facilitating their everyday work in component manufacturing or service provision and want to deploy their maintenance technicians efficiently.

Quickly and easily installed streamlined SW solution

All messages are displayed on an additional industrial PC

isense integration

isense integration system

Early ordering of replacement parts thanks to connection to ERP

Wide variety of topologies and standards (Profinet, Ethernet, EtherKat, CC-Link IE), OPC-UA, MQTT

Integration into the existing software environment and the intranet

Large number of protocols such as OPC-UA or MQTT

Integration into the customer's production visualisation software

Operating states of different igus® components at a click of the mouse and at a glance

Ordering of replacement parts via connected ERP system

Connection to control software via customer's infrastructure (Ethernet, Profinet, CC-Link etc.)

Shutdown of the machine or acoustic or visual warnings

isense online

isense online system

Smart production: Solution comes with the problem

Use the best method to plan servicing work and only do the work that is really necessary

Efficient work prioritising after the sensor warning, and thanks to integration into the ERP, appropriate replacement parts from stock.

Predictive and plannable servicing work due to early information on required maintenance or replacement

Data from the igus® laboratory are processed on a server with the anonymised customer data and also with open data of other customer applications in order to produce a data model

Service life forecasts from the protected customer area are regularly compared with the data model

Benefits from millions of test data in the igus® database and learns something new every day

Smart plastic application examples from our customers

In use at an Austrian automotive supplier

This factory in Steyr is the biggest and most important engine factory of a car manufacturer. On average, an engine comes off the assembly line every 14 seconds - in peak periods, more than 6,000 engines are produced every working day. This output can only be achieved with a high degree of automation with reliable components. This is why companies rely on smart plastics from igus® in order to avoid unforeseen failures and machine shutdowns.

smart plastics in use

Tested! In the industry's largest test lab

Anyone who is able to make reliable and useful predictions around maintenance work is one step ahead of the competition. In the age of digitalisation, more than big data is required for such predictions. In order to be able to use the sensor data to derive the correct recommendations for work to be accurately scheduled, long term empirical values from the igus® test database are used. The service life of all igus® products can be calculated online and quickly delivered. To this end, igus® operates the largest test labs in its industry. The heart of igus® innovation beats there.

igus® test lab

Online status monitoring from anywhere in the world

Day to day maintenance recommendation

Online status monitoring from anywhere in the world - day to day maintenance recommendation

In addition to the maintenance recommendation time in days, all measured sensor values can be displayed with history on a detailed page. In this way, exceptional operating conditions or creeping mechanical changes can be detected early on and corresponding measures initiated at an early stage.

Contact an expert

Whether you're interested in fully assembled solutions or looking to build your own customizable project, let us assist you with a solution based on your specific application and requirements. Contact us via the form below or call us at (905) 760-8448 to discuss your project today!

Contact an igus® expert now
Kevin Wright igus contact