Concepts such as “Industry 4.0”, “Internet of Things” and “Smart Factory” are no longer a vague promise. Companies are already benefitting from the use of intelligent systems and products.
At EMO 2019, one of the world’s leading trade fairs scheduled for Sept. 16-21 in Hannover, Germany, igus will demonstrate how machine tool manufacturers and customers can drastically reduce their machine’s maintenance needs while also reducing costs by using smart machine components. igus, which is based in Cologne, Germany, runs its North American operations out of Providence, R.I.
Maintenance in the Industry 4.0 era has shown a clear paradigm shift. Instead of personnel carrying out maintenance at fixed intervals or reacting to a failure or fault, predictive maintenance allows workers to continuously monitor a machine’s status. Repair or replacement is executed only when necessary and the timing of maintenance tasks can be planned precisely.
The concept of smart plastics
Unplanned shutdowns and the cost of equipment failure can be nearly eliminated by condition monitoring. igus has developed sophisticated smart plastics by using diverse sensors and monitoring modules for energy chains, plain bearings, linear bearings and slewing ring bearings.
For example, sensors can measure abrasion or wear of the pin/bore connections of energy chains. Sensors can also detect breakages and the push/pull forces being applied. By networking with the new igus communication module (icom.plus), which igus will be showing on Stand E01 in Hall 8 at the EMO trade fair, the sensors are integrated into the customer’s IT infrastructure.
Flexible data integration
The icom.plus is programmed with initial service life algorithms based on igus configuration tools and, at the customer’s request, can be operated offline without an update function after online installation. The user can therefore decide how the module is connected and how the data is managed, while establishing a balance between runtime maximization and IT security. If online connection of the icom.plus is chosen, the service life information is continuously compared with the igus cloud in order to enable maximum machine run times with a minimum risk of failure.
The data in the cloud draws on the 10 billion annual test cycles of energy chains and cables performed in the company’s 3,800 square meter test laboratory. Based on these tests, the results of which are incorporated into the service life calculator, customers can precisely predict how long an e-chain, for example, will work reliably in the respective machine tool application.
With the isense components, service life is continually updated, giving the customer additional reassurance. Each update considers the current ambient conditions of the application. Thanks to machine learning and continuous improvement, precise information on the durability of specific components in real applications can be obtained.
This information can be viewed on the screen of the machine control system and, if online connection is chosen, SMS or e-mail can provide critical details if unexpected operating states occur or maintenance is impending. At an early stage, users are informed if there is a need to procure replacement parts. A wide range of scenarios, such as automatic initiation of maintenance work or the ordering of replacement parts can be implemented.