Igus smart plastics increases plant safety, reduces maintenance costs

The new intelligent plastic solutions offer many options for predictive maintenance
Igus smart plastics increases plant safety, reduces maintenance costs
Machine Learning, Big Data and Industry 4.0 - the real potential customer benefits from digitisation are often hidden behind these buzzwords. Intelligent products such as igus smart plastics, for example, enable companies to increase the reliability of their systems, plan maintenance tasks accurately and thus save costs. The way this works was demonstrated by igus with new ideas at the Hannover Messe 2018.
Igus has been developing a family of products since 2016 under the heading 'isense', where various sensors and monitoring modules add intelligence to plastic solutions such as energy chains, cables, linear guides and slewing ring bearings. They measure among other things the wear during the operation and alert the user early enough to plan repair or replacement. 
By networking using the igus communication module (icom), the online status and alert display, for example via a PC, tablet or smartphone, is just as possible as a direct integration into the customer's infrastructure. These smart plastics are already predicting the service life of numerous customer applications, such as in the automotive industry. They are continuously developed in close cooperation with customers. These novelties were presented by igus at the Hannover Messe 2018. 
Individual integration of smart plastics
The improved isense modules, which use sensors to collect data from the energy chain, cable, linear guide or slewing ring bearing, are equipped with a serial interface and can be easily integrated into a control cabinet. A data logger allows the storing of values on an SD card. The data measured by the different isense systems are then sent wirelessly to the icom module, summarised and processed. 
The customer has the choice of various concepts for integration into their own infrastructure. In this way there is an option for the icom to send the data from the sensors to a PC or integrate the data via the computer into the existing software environment and intranet solution. 
In addition, a connection to the igus Data Center is possible. In this case, the maintenance recommendations via Machine Learning and AI algorithms are constantly compared and defined with the experiences of many existing applications, for example in the large igus test laboratory spread over a floor area of 2,750 sq m. 
Richard Habering, Head of the newly established mart plastics business unit at igus, informed, “Due to the numerous test findings that are fed into the online service life calculators, we are able to predict precisely how long an e-chain will work reliably in a particular application. The isense components provide the customer with additional safety through a permanent service life update. This is because it includes the current ambient conditions of the actual application. Maintenance and replacement occurs only when it is really essential. This saves time and maintenance costs.”
The Cologne-based igus GmbH is a globally leading manufacturer of energy chain systems and polymer plain bearings. The family-owned company has offices in 35 countries and employs around 3,800 people around the world. In 2017, igus generated a turnover of Euro 690 million with motion plastics, plastic components for moving applications. Igus operates the largest test laboratories and factories in its sector to offer customers quick turnaround times on innovative products and solutions tailored to their needs.
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