In use at -40 degrees C: How 25 e-chains help prepare planes before they fly

Published on: 5th March 2019

Friction-free operation of a fully automatic maintenance system for aircraft enabled by e-chains and igubal pillow block bearings

25 energy chains from igus ensure safe cable routing in the washing and de-icing system. (Source: MSG Production AS); The e-chains of the E4.1 series are resistant to chemicals and moisture, as well as operate reliably even at low temperatures. (Source: MSG Production AS)

De-icing and washing aircraft is still a very manual process. To reduce time, delays and therefore costs, MSG Production AS developed a fully automated all-in-one concept that can de-ice and wash aircraft. The Norwegian company relies entirely on the advantages of motion plastics from igus: energy chains of the E2 and E4 series ensure reliable cable guidance and igubal pillow block bearings for the mounting of cleaning nozzles.

The de-icing of aircraft is expensive and time-consuming, since multiple steps here still require manual intervention. As many aircraft have to be freed of ice simultaneously, the de-icing becomes the bottleneck at the airport. The same situation applies to cleaning. The washing of a Boeing 737 takes place manually – and that can take up to ten hours. MSG Production AS took on these challenges and for the first time developed a stationary, fully automatic system, which fulfils two purposes: de-icing and washing. It reduces the de-icing time to seven minutes and the washing time to twenty minutes. The system consists of three beams, attached to each of which are two telescopic arms and bars. There is a nozzle system in the bars and on the floor. When an aircraft enters the hangar, it is pulled by an electric carriage and cleaned or de-iced by the system similar to that in a car wash. Since this must work reliably despite humidity, chemicals and cold, the manufacturer makes special demands on the system components. The developers therefore rely on energy chains from igus for safe guidance of hoses and cables.

Cable routing made easy with igus energy chains

In total, there are 25 energy chains in the system. In addition to 19 e-chains of the E4.1 series, MSG Production AS also installed six 2400 series energy supply systems. The material igumid G ensures that the chains are insensitive to moisture and chemicals. Even temperatures down to -40 degrees Celsius are no problem. Both energy chains are dirt-resistant and do not require lubrication, making them ideal for use in de-icing or cleaning equipment.

Lubrication-free nozzle movement due to igubal pillow block bearings

In addition to cable guidance, MSG Production AS also relied on igus products for mounting the nozzles. The igubal pillow block bearings reliably ensure the mobility of the individual nozzles. Their position on the floor and the bars also permanently expose them to chemicals and moisture. Like all products of the motion plastics specialist igus, the bearings are lubrication- and corrosion-free, wear-resistant and have low-friction. Another advantage is that the service life of the bearings and the e-chains can be calculated quickly and easily using online tools. The forecasts are based on more than 12,000 tribological tests and 10 billion test cycles a year in the company’s own 2,750 square-metre test lab. This gives the customer a reliable statement about the service life of his used bearings as well as e-chains and cables. This helps to avoid unplanned machine downtime.

The operation of the MSG system can be viewed here:

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Article keywords:

De-icing e-chain MSG Production AS