News from the test lab: igus puts automated high-speed system into operation

Published on: 14th August 2019

Energy chain systems are tested at speeds of up to 8 m/s over a travel of 400 metres

In the 200 metre long igus outdoor test facility in Cologne, e-chains and cables for long travels are tested under real conditions. (Source: igus GmbH)

The motion plastics specialist igus operates the largest test laboratory in the industry on more than 3,800 square metres. 10 billion cycles are covered every year for energy chains and cables alone. Now igus has commissioned a new automated test facility for long distances in outdoor premises in Cologne Porz-Lind. Polymer energy chains and cables are tested here for a travel speed of up to 8 m/s over a travel of 400 metres.

A great challenge for operators of sewage plants, waste incineration plants, cranes, power plants or mines is to guide data, energy and media safely on long travels. High speeds combined with a high fill weight often pose problems for energy supply systems such as motor cable drums, busbars or festoons. An alternative is energy chain systems from igus, which are tested in igus’ own test laboratory. In order to give the customer the surety that the energy supply system will always work reliably over long distances, igus has now put into operation a new automated test facility.

New test rig for long distances

Energy chains and cables are tested at the igus outdoor location in the south of Cologne, at a speed of up to 8 m/s on a track of 200 metres, which corresponds to a 400-metre-long travel. With additional units, travels up to 1000 metres can be simulated in the future. The fully automatic system accounts for a wide range of applications in terms of acceleration and speed. In addition to the mechanical load caused by the movement of the transfer vehicle, environmental influences act unimpeded on the tested energy chains and cables. The test rig is part of the industry’s largest 3,800 square metre experimental laboratory. More than 10 billion test cycles per year are carried out with e-chains and chainflex cables at a total of 180 testing stations. 4,100 energy chain system tests are performed annually on 180 systems such as the climate chamber or on robots.

Roller energy chains are continuously being tested

Energy chain systems from igus can be moved effortlessly over distances of up to one kilometre or more with a fill weight of 50 kg/m. As guidance for highly flexible chainflex cables and hoses, they can be guided smoothly and with low friction in long travels through guide troughs and enclosures. Including roller energy chains of the P4 series, which are tested in outdoor facilities. The series has already proven its worth in more than 1,000 crane and gantry applications worldwide, with travels of up to 800 metres, high speeds of more than 5 m/s and several million cycles with low vibration and traversing noise. Rollers integrated in the chain link reduce friction to a minimum and increase service life. Due to the offset between upper run and lower run, the plastic rollers are not rolled over, but roll past each other to allow very smooth running. As a result, the coefficient of friction decreases and the drive power is reduced by 57 per cent. At the same time, igus uses its knowledge of polymers to further increase the service life of the e-chains. For example, in the P41.56 for long distances, lubrication-free and maintenance-free tribo-polymers are integrated in the bearing for pivoting motion, which doubles the service life of the e-chain. A basis for this new development was also the numerous real experiments in the igus test laboratory.

You can see the test system in the video below: https://youtu.be/QusrqQ41ZEw

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