Energy chain project in a concrete spreader system - igus Blog

Energy chain project in a concrete spreader system

igu-blog-adm | 27. July 2021

Two combined e-chain systems with individual trough systems for concrete spreaders

Concrete is one of the most popular building materials of our time. It is used not only in private housebuilding, but also in industrial manufacture. Ebawe Anlagentechnik, a company based in Eilenburg, Germany, is specialised in turnkey production systems for prefab concrete construction. It engages in entire factory planning and development, manufacture and delivery of production plant which focus on the customers’ individual requirements. During a special project in Thailand, igus supported the customer from the very beginning in developing an energy supply system. An individual solution for a concrete spreader was implemented – entirely according to customer requirements.

Concrete spreader system with telescopic energy chain trough system


The concrete spreader is used to place fresh concrete onto the formed, reinforced pallets. It takes the concrete directly from the mixer or by means of a bucket conveyor. It distributes the concrete evenly as required by the element contours and thickness. The concrete spreader consists of a movable bucket that runs inside the primary chassis. The primary chassis is also movable. The bucket must be cleaned at regular intervals. Depending on capacity usage, it may be cleaned several times a day. For this purpose, the bucket is taken to a washing point outside the production hall. This keeps the production area free of excessive dirt. An energy chain is used to supply the concrete spreader systems with energy.

Description of the problem

For the project, a branch line travel was created to reach the washing point. Because of the layout, this was very far from the place where the concrete work was being done. The bucket had a travel of 17.5 metres in the primary chassis and another 35 metres for the approach to the washing point. In previous applications, the branch line travel was always shorter than the concrete travel within the primary chassis, so that a non-central energy chain fixed end ensured that the washing point was reached. The bucket travel fixed end must be on the primary chassis so that the chassis can move. There was no feasible technical alternative to the energy chain. A new solution had to be developed to implement the specified travel.

Problem description: combining two travels

An overview of the overall project requirements:

  • Travel 1: 17.5m (production operation)
  • Travel 2: 35m (one or two branch line runs to the washing point per day)
  • Speed: 0.2m/s
  • Acceleration: 0.2m/s²
  • Deceleration: 0.2m/s²
  • Concrete manufacture and plant cleaning process with a single energy supply system
  • Semi-stationary cable guidance at the concrete spreader, retaining the longitudinal travel option
  • Protected cable guidance
  • Safer signal transmission than with coiled cables and a motor cable drum
  • As compact as possible, space-saving


Our engineering team worked with Ebawe to develop a concept that uses two energy chains arranged one above the other. The lower guide trough is fixed to the primary chassis. The upper guide trough is supported on rollers and rests on the lower trough so that each of the troughs has its own energy chain.

Special trough solution: trough system supported on rollers

For the bucket’s travel within the primary chassis, the upper trough on the primary chassis is mechanically locked. Only the top chain is used to move the bucket. When the bucket leaves the primary chassis, the top trough lock to the primary chassis is released. The bucket locks onto the trough. For part of the branch line travel, the bucket takes the guide trough, including the fixed end, with it. In this phase, the lower chain is extended. After the lower chain has been completely extended, the bucket uncouples itself from the top trough, which locks itself to the bucket’s track. The upper chain’s infeed point has been shifted. The bucket now reaches the washing point with the help of the top chain.

Special stacked trough system with two energy chains

Solution is a hit

The solution concept was very successful and completely fulfilled the customer’s requirements. Shifting the top fixed end makes it possible to implement longer travels with a defined lower fixed end. The possible branch line travel can be doubled if two chains are used. This provides a wider range of design options in the layout. The energy chain solution works reliably, so Ebawe Anlagentechnik will be using it for similar tasks in the future. The solution convinced the judges for the 2016 igus vector awards. It received third prize.

Discover more projects in our information section for e-chain project planning. You can find more engineering project highlights on our website. Do you have a project and need support? Here you can find our contact form directly.

Our igus blog also covers more interesting topics related to energy supply systems, bearing technology, linear technology, 3D printing and Low Cost Automation.

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