Double safety: abrasion and break monitoring
The energy chains also use the abrasion monitoring isense EC. W ("W" for "wear"): a sensor chip installed in the crossbar of the e-chain® continuously measures the condition of the sliding e-chain® during the travel: if the abrasion has progressed so far that the end of the service life of the chain is approaching, the sensor will respond and trigger a signal. However, the abrasion of energy chains made of high-performance plastics has not progressed so far that it has ever come to an emergency notification.
The use of the isense EC.B modules
("B" for "break") is a lot more significant here. With the help of a polymer wire (running within the energy chain) and a sensor unit, they monitor the condition of the chain. Here a failure occurred two weeks after visual monitoring of the energy chain systems
had resulted in no complaints. This can be prevented by the break monitoring. At the beginning of the beta phase, however, a lot of fine tuning had to be done. This is because the temperature in a workshop has a great influence on the length of the chain and thus on the pre-load of the polymer wire. Here it was necessary to determine limit values in order to distinguish between "normal" expansions and actual incidents.
At the Austrian engine plant, igus® isense modules have already been chosen as the innovation of the month. Currently, there are considerations and plans to equip around 50 to 60 energy chain systems from igus with break monitoring. In the case of the three test systems, one is already at the point where the system breaks down in real operation and the responsible machine setters must act. After a visual check, they can decide if it was a false alarm or if there is a real need for action. In this way, expensive consequential damage can be avoided even during the current beta phase and the linear robots can be safely moved.