Innovative, efficient washing facility solutions with igus® e-chains® – igus Blog

Innovative, efficient washing facility solutions with igus® e-chains®

Richard Habering | 14. June 2023

Defective conveyor belts in washing facilities repeatedly lead to expensive damage and breakdowns. So companies are switching to sensor-supported, networked igus e-chains as part of a modernisation effort. The interaction of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance enables operators not only to avoid total loss, but also to know exactly when damage will occur and how it can be avoided. Unplanned downtime is a thing of the past.

Challenges due to extreme operation in washing facilities

Washing facilities play a crucial role in the cleaning and maintenance of various vehicles and machines. However, for smooth, efficient operation, washing facilities must overcome a variety of challenges. One of the main problems is the extreme environmental conditions to which the facilities are exposed. High humidity, strong water jets, temperature fluctuation, and aggressive cleaning agents put an enormous strain on materials. Conventional solutions often reach their limits and are unable to meet the long-term requirements.

The advantages of igus smart plastics

There are many advantages to using igus smart plastics in washing facilities. The e-chain ensures reliable cable guidance in the facilities. It adapts flexibly and without friction to system movements and protects cables and lines against damage from cleaning agents and dirt. The solution requires no lubrication or maintenance and increases facility efficiency and reliability. igus smart plastic solutions are tailored specifically to industry requirements and offer an optimal combination of durability, resistance, and efficiency.

Flexible protective hoses can also be used to protect cables and lines from external influences. These hoses are flexible, durable, and very resistant to water and cleaning agents.

Smart sensors allow for energy chain condition monitoring and predictive maintenance in real time

But even the most reliable energy chain can develop defects. A tool or other foreign object may accidentally be left in the guide trough. To prevent total loss in such a case, igus can equip washing facility energy chains with i.Sense, a condition monitoring system that consists of several components. A force sensor called EC.P measures the push/pull forces during operation. Information then reaches an evaluation module to stop operation and sound an alarm when there are deviations from the normal force range to prevent complete failure.

For even more control, the optimal intervals for servicing the system can be calculated with predictive maintenance. To this end, igus has installed an i.Cee module in the washing facility control cabinet. Like the evaluation module, it receives the force values from the EC.P sensor. There are also data from other sensors that measure e-chain abrasion and the ambient temperature, so just a few staff can maintain a full washing facility overview.

igus smart plastics application examples in a Luxembourg train washing system

Defective energy chains in the train washing station of Luxembourg’s state railway company repeatedly led to expensive damage and train cancellations. So those responsible switched to sensor-supported, networked igus e-chains as part of a modernisation effort.

The 200-metre washing station consists of eight washing trolleys, four on each side, which travel along the train on a rail system of around 50 metres, cleaning it with rotating brushes. Hoses and cables for energy, compressed air, water, cleaning agents, and data follow the vehicles in robust energy chains made of igus high-performance plastic.

The interaction of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance enables the operator not only to avoid total loss, but also to know exactly when damage will occur and how it can be avoided. This means that unplanned downtime is a thing of the past.


Interested? Would you like to verify the quality of igus motion plastics for yourself? Then visit our website with all the products that we manufacture for washing facilities:

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