AI meets plastics: igus accelerates transformation to sustainable Industry 4.0 at the Hannover Exhibition


But that’s not all: igus constantly develops its smart plastics services to respond to challenges such as the shortage of skilled workers. For example, thanks to an igus digital service called “superwise“, it is easier now ever to monitor all one’s applications via a central dashboard with less expenditure on personnel. This connection, by the intelligent linking of application, product and sensor data, as well as the optional use of the Internet of Things, results in comprehensive “plastic intelligence”. Customers automatically receive timely maintenance recommendations, quotes, warnings or suggestions for improvement.

If companies do not have time or resource to keep an eye on their applications full-time, igus assumes this responsibility. Employees then proactively report when something needs to be done. Justin Leonard, director of e-chain systems and cables at igus UK, says: “The superwise service combines the modern sensor technology of smart plastics with a digital all-round service. In times of multiple crises, it is digital innovations like these that determine the competitiveness of companies more than ever. It is important to us that even small and medium-sized companies, without deep know-how and with low budgets, can benefit from trends such as predictive maintenance.”

Operate low-cost robots easily with AI-based voice and gesture control

igus will also present innovations in low-cost automation at the exhibition. Above all, igus intelligence is involved here. These systems include the ReBeL cobot, which is available in the fully equipped plug-and-play version for only £5500.

For robot users looking for an even more compact solution, igus has developed the ReBeL KID. Visitors to the show preview will already be able to see an Education AGV, an open-source solution and autonomous learning platform consisting of an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) that can be combined with cobots such as the ReBeL or the ReBeL KID. Customers can combine compatible low-cost accessories from over 100 manufacturers, such as grippers or vision systems, using igus’s online marketplace RBTX, based on the plug-and-play principle – supported by online tools and 3D models to guide you through a system design. RBTX is intended to provide companies of all sizes with a cost-effective entry into automation. Here, too, artificial intelligence is playing an increasing role, helping to develop an automation solution faster and easier, for example with AI-based simulations. The customer might save on the purchase cost of a robot as well as the integration needed and can test his/her application beforehand.

igus also offers products with AI-based voice and gesture control. For example, Amazon Alexa can be connected directly to the igus robots, or gesture control can be integrated via ROS 2, making it very easy to determine and instruct robot movements in the future. Such AI-supported, intuitive usability in combination with a low price paves the way for low-cost robotics to enter the mass market. Currently, igus is mainly using AI to monitor robots and integrate vision sensors quickly and easily. But the robotics team is also researching resilient programming using voice or gestures. A simple robot program for everyone, which is not limited to just the robot, but programs the entire application. “People are always surprised at what igus high-performance plastics can achieve – whether in terms of lubrication-free, carbon reduction or automation,” says Rob Dumayne. “By combining our innovative products with digital services and new technologies, we want to show that our lubrication-free motion plastics can improve a wide range of applications and make them more sustainable, intelligent and Industry 4.0-capable,” says Justin Leonard.

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