Small investment, big impact: Contactless monitoring of igus cables in e-chains


i.Sense CF.D sensors detect defects in chainflex bus and data cables, preventing expensive machinery downtime.

Smart monitoring of bus and data cables from igus has entered the next phase with igus i.Sense CF.D monitoring sensors. They check the electrical condition of chainflex cables in e-chain systems, with no contact and without interfering with existing cable layouts. By doing this, real-time monitoring does not require sacrificial cables and, combined with the new i.Cee:plus II evaluator module, it enables even more efficient predictive maintenance to protect against cost-intensive systems failure.

The latest generation of CF.D sensors makes it easier to apply the predictive maintenance of chainflex bus and data cables in igus e-chain systems. The smart system consists of two sensor units that are clipped onto the chainflex cable to be inspected, before and after the area to be monitored. These are small enough to fit in the distribution box on the moving side and in the control cabinet on the fixed-point side. During operation, the sensors continuously check the transmission properties of the cables.

High-frequency technology detects the smallest changes in condition without contact

i.Sense CF.D, the new generation of monitoring sensors, relies on frequency technology that works without sacrificial cables or contacting existing cables. “Thanks to this technology, the sensors reliably measure even the smallest transmission deterioration of cables and connectors,” says Justin Leonard, director of e-chains and smart plastics at igus UK. In this way, effective predictive maintenance is possible in moving industrial applications in which cables and plugs are exposed to continuous mechanical stress.

The new CF.D sensors are compatible with most bus and data cables of the chainflex cable range from igus. “Thanks to condition monitoring, users of machines and systems can detect and replace the corresponding cables that are approaching their wear limit at an early stage, thereby significantly increasing plant safety,” Justin adds. Thus, these sensors are a small investment with a big impact, because in some industries downtime costs of €5,000 per minute, and more, are common.

i.Cee:plus II: Detecting impending faults on smartphones and tablets

As the data and bus controls approach their wear limit, a second system comes into play: i.Cee:plus II. A CF.D sensor is connected via USB cable to the predictive i.Cee maintenance module. A deterioration of the data transmission properties indicates the need for maintenance work and adjusts the lifetime calculation of the components used. It outputs the measurement results of each individual sensor via a dashboard that users can access via the local network or, when mobile, on the internet with a PC, smartphone or tablet. Thus, operators can keep up-to-date at any time, from anywhere in the world, and can react quickly to alarm messages received by SMS or e-mail.

The dashboard also provides an overview of the plant’s history, including the total number of energy chain strokes, the temperature in production and the remaining time until the next scheduled maintenance. Justin says: “i.Cee:plus II and the new generation of CF.D sensors together put predictive maintenance on a secure foundation, thanks to intuitive usability and flexible integration into the user’s IT, so that faults and unexpected shutdowns can be prevented more reliably than ever.”

With this new generation of CF.D monitoring modules and i.Cee:plus II, igus is expanding the i.Sense environment for predictive maintenance. Since 2016, the company has been developing a product family, under the i.Sense name, in which sensors and monitoring modules make motion plastics such as energy chains, cables, linear guides and rotary table bearings intelligent. These smart plastics reliably predict the service life of components in numerous customer applications, including the automotive industry.

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