Germany-based igus GmbH posted a 17% increase in sales in 2017, according to figures released this week by the company at Hannover Messe 2018. igus, which also has a presence in Providence, R.I., is the manufacturer of motion plastics.
The company reported increased sales to 690 million euros, which corresponds to more than $840 million. The manufacturer also made significant investment in product innovation, delivery efficiency and improving its digital capabilities. The Cologne-based supplier plans to continue its aggressive growth strategy in 2018 to help customers be even more competitive in the global marketplace.
At Hannover Messe 2018, igus demonstrated that its tribo-polymers have long been more than grey, unremarkable plastic parts. The world of motion plastics is varied and multi-faceted. Its product line includes individual robot joints that lead to the development of low-cost robots, 3D-printed double gears that can be configured online, and energy chains that can be monitored during operation. Some applications in which igus’ high-performance plastics are being used include machines in semi-conductor production, more than 1,000 STS cranes from Antwerp to Shanghai, and in amphibious vehicles that operate in the North Pole.
The primary objective of igus is to help manufacturers achieve technical improvements and reduce costs through the use of high-performance plastics for moving applications. The business has more than 200,000 customers worldwide.
The international business sells 53% of its products to companies in Europe, 30% in Asia and 17% in the U.S. and Africa. The number of employees at igus expanded to approximately 3,800 in 2017.
Increased production and storage capacities
igus substantially increased production and storage capacities in North America, Asia and Europe in 2017 to better supply and service customers worldwide. The company increased the size of its U.S. factory by nearly 54,000 sq-ft. Floor space in facilities in Japan, Poland and India doubled, and igus started construction on a new facility in Shanghai that will include more than 234,000 sq-ft.
Sales subsidiaries in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France Austria and Spain were also enlarged. At the company’s headquarters in Cologne-Porz-Lind, igus added nearly 100 new injection-molding machines.
Company improves IT infrastructure
igus also invested in improving its IT infrastructure, and now has 4.5 times the technical capacity that it had in 2014. The goal is to make igus products configurable and calculable online, and then manufacture them automatically with digital support from all aspects of company operations.
“Thanks to our extensive research, we have succeeded in making it possible for users to perform calculations about moving machine elements such as plain bearings, linear bearings, gears and even cables made of plastic,’’ said Frank Blase, CEO of igus GmbH. The technological advances help engineers quickly and easily find the igus product they need, anywhere and anytime, and reliably calculate its service life in their individual calculations.
Digitization has also helped igus expand and improve its product line. Energy chains, cables, linear guides and slewing ring bearings can be equipped with sensors and monitoring modules so that customers can plan maintenance work. During operation, the products can detect the amount of wear and indicate when repair or replacement is necessary.
Thanks to networking using the igus communication module (icom), online status indication or alarm signaling is available via computer or smartphone. This also enables direct integration into the company-wide infrastructure. With this intelligence based on test data, igus is establishing predictive maintenance into its components.
Opening areas for new applications
Improved technology and expanding infrastructure, along with its plastics expertise, testing and continuous development of tribo-plastics, are helping open new application areas for igus.
At Hannover Messe, igus unveiled the robolink Apiro, a lubrication-free and maintenance-free low-cost articulated joint for robotics applications. Apiro makes it possible to implement extremely complicated movements, simplifies machine design and reduces cost with just a few elements.
igus’ e-chains are also now seeing expanded use in cars, theatres and opera houses, and more customers are moving from steel to plastic e-chains in the offshore industry. Other forms of energy supply equipment such as festoons, cable reeling drums and busbars are also seeing increased used with igus energy chain systems.
igus offers all-around service, from online configuration and service life calculation for a single component to worldwide assembly and installation of turn-key systems.
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