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Condition monitoring for automotive parts suppliers

The biggest and most important engine factory for a large German car manufacturer in Austria.

In hardly any other industry is reliability as important as the automotive industry. Whole vehicles or even individual components such as the engines, go through production lines with a very high degree of automation. If production stops here, it quickly leads to expensive losses. Therefore, it is important for vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to be able to rely on fail-safe components. An Austrian engine manufacturer therefore relies on "smart plastics" from igus. Sensors measure wear during operation and notify the user early enough to plan a repair or an exchange.

Profile

  • What was needed: Plastic energy chain, abrasion monitoring isense EC. W, and breakage detection isense EC.B
  • Requirements: High output of the plant requires particularly reliable energy supply under continuous load
  • Industry: Automotive industry
  • Success for the customer: Intelligent "smart plastics" solution, i.e. data on the condition of the components can be obtained continuously before a system failure can occur.

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Energy chains

Problem

Site: engine plant in Austria. Application: indoor linear robot for the automated handling of engine blocks.  At the engine plant in Austria, the largest and most important engine plant  of a major German car manufacturer, an engine comes off the assembly lines every 14 seconds on average - at peak times more than 6,000 engines are produced each working day.  This extremely high output can only be achieved with a high degree of automation and with extremely reliable components. The goal of the operators is to always avoid failures and system downtimes if possible. These high standards were therefore also set for the energy supply system of the indoor gantry. In fact, this later has to work continuously in 18 to 19 shifts per week with high dynamics. Future energy supplies can quickly reach cycles in the millions.

Solution

In order to minimise weight and noise compared to steel chains used to guide the moving cables on the linear robots, the manufacturer relies on plastic energy chains from igus. But these are not their only advantages: due to the increasingly important topic of 'predictive maintenance' in the industry, igus® has been developing the so-called 'smart plastics', intelligent plastic products, for some years now. "This product family, which we have grouped together under the brand name isense, comprises various sensors and monitoring modules with which, for example, the energy chain systems from igus® can be equipped," explains Michael Blaß, Vice President e-chain systems® at igus®. "Thanks to the digital networking of machines and products, it is possible to continuously record the condition of the components and to notify as soon as a repair or replacement is required. "That way it is possible to avoid unplanned plant downtimes and expensive production losses.


isense EC.W modules

With the help of a polymer wire (inside the energy chain) and a sensor unit, isense EC.B modules monitor the condition of the chain. In the event of a chain breakage, the machine is stopped automatically to prevent damage.

isense EC. W modules

isense EC.W modules have also been built in. A sensor built into the crossbar signals advanced wear of the chain. The measurement of wear data means that a chain's remaining service life can be predicted and replacement can be planned at an early stage.


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