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igus: The world leader in cables for the energy chain after 25 years02/12/2015

The motion plastics specialist igus revolutionised the cable design for moving applications in e-chains 25 years ago and has been offering motor, control and data cables for specialised moving applications in energy chains through the chainflex brand ever since. The use in energy chains requires specific cable designs to increase the cable's service life and, as a result, the service life of the application. In this area in particular, igus can draw on its experience as market leader for e-chains and on its expertise of more than 50 years with all things plastics-related. "As market leader for e-chains, the advantage at igus is that we develop both energy chains as well as cables. For this reason, we can test and offer both as a system", emphasises Frank Blase, CEO at igus GmbH. igus has had much success in this area: The chainflex business area is exceeding 100 million euros in revenue this year, which makes up more than 20% of the total revenue at igus. With 1,040 cables from stock, the Cologne-based company has the widest product range to offer with respect to energy chain applications. Of these, no less than 3,200 drive cables at seven price points can be fabricated according to 22 manufacturer standards. "The degree of automation in companies is continuously increasing, particularly due to Industry 4.0. At the same time, it is necessary to guarantee an interruption-free flow of data, media and energy", says Frank Blase. "This really motivates us to invest significant resources in innovation, product reliability and fast, worldwide availability, to ensure that our customers receive the best possible ratio of price to reliability."

2,750 square metres of movement for innovation and reliability Considerable investments are being made in the industry's largest test laboratory. Here, more than 70 cable test machines performing more than two billion test cycles per year. On average, 650 cable tests are being conducted simultaneously. New test rigs enable fast acceleration speeds of 15 m/s2 across an area of 50 metres; a new cryochamber now allows tests down to -40 °C. Thanks to new torsion attachments and the expansion of the outdoor installation for long travel paths, cable use can be simulated under even more real conditions. The overall area of the test laboratory increased by 1,000 square metres to a current total area of 2,750 square metres. Thanks to a multitude of tests, igus is the only manufacturer able to offer a 36-month guarantee for all chainflex cables, including torsion cables such as the world's first CAT7 cable for robotics. These tests also allow igus to make exact statements in its catalogue regarding bend radii, temperature ranges and service life for special use in the e-chain, in addition to the standard norms. The results from the test laboratory are also used in the five online tools for chainflex and three online tools for readycable. igus has invested significantly in the online area to allow customers to quickly determine the service life in moving applications and find, configure and order the most suitable cables for their particular application.

Worldwide local delivery according to the customer's needs igus has considerably expanded its production and storage capacity in North America, Asia and Europe to ensure even faster delivery to its customers in local markets. With cable production on three continents and 14 storage and assembly centres worldwide, customers receive the exact cable needed for their production system from stock: single, individually cut cables, reeled cables, fabricated cables or ready-to-install energy chain systems. igus also offers on-site system installation service.  

With increasing automation, quality becomes ever more important The best possible reliability for the customer is also the goal of igus' unique quality assurance in the production area: 20% of any chainflex batch is always removed and checked for proper function at the test laboratory following an initial visual inspection. igus wants to offer the most affordable cable worldwide that is guaranteed to work every time. But, as Frank Blase emphasises, an affordable price is not everything. "Now and in future, affordable pricing will not be the sole concern of customers. Their primary concern is the quality and reliability of a cable, particularly as it relates to special movements in the energy chain. We consider ourselves the first point of contact for finding a solution for our customers and our 36-month guarantee makes it clear that chainflex lasts."

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