Why wait? More time for important things thanks to smart maintenance

Richard Habering | 16. September 2021

Every minute often counts in production plants. Efficient, intelligent maintenance, usually called “smart maintenance”, protects against expensive production downtimes and unplanned shutdowns. The service life of our igus® e-chains®, cables and bearings can be calculated online exactly for your application parameters. So there will be no surprises. What’s more: With smart plastics, the components report at an early stage when they are due for replacement. In this article I would like to show you how we have successfully introduced smart maintenance to our customers – with the intelligent solutions from smart plastics.

But igus is not only involved in such future projects as the introduction of an intelligent, data-driven maintenance concept. From the replacement of individual chain links to large ​modernisation projects, whether assembly of individual components or as a fully harnessed system. We can take all this off your hands and give a system guarantee of​36 months on energy supply systems* installed by us. If necessary, please contact our experts directly to arrange a service appointment.

What is smart maintenance?

The Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon offers the following definition: smart maintenance describes the development of maintenance in the age of digitalisation and Industry 4.0. In this context, smart maintenance deals with the strategic, tactical and operational management of industrial production facilities (i. e. equipment, buildings and technical infrastructure). The goal of smart maintenance is to maximise the technical and economic effectiveness of maintenance measures under the holistic consideration of the respective production system.1

How does the introduction of smart maintenance look like in practice?

The process behind smart maintenance can be broken down into several process steps. First, plant (sections) are identified that are to be optimised by means of smart maintenance. These can be critical, particularly expensive or even simple systems (parts) that are already equipped with the required sensor technology. Caution is advised with old systems: often the investment is not worthwhile here, and consideration should be given to a new purchase.

As soon as systems are identified to be integrated into the smart maintenance, evaluation starts with condition monitoring systems. The basis of any condition monitoring is a suitable sensor system. The appropriate components do not have to be installed in the machine based on previous experience, but can be retrofitted at low cost. This means that smart maintenance can also be integrated into older machines. With ouri.Sense solutions from smart plastics, igus can offer a product that already provides continuous condition monitoring in over 1000 industrial plants. These can be placed directly on the components they monitor. Data processing also takes place directly there to avoid the transmission of large amounts of data. The i.Sense module collects the data and predicts possible failures as early as possible. This allows parts to be replaced in good time and prevents machine downtime.

Maintenance planning on the linear robot – maintenance is already intelligently controlled here

The smart plastics technology used here is an EC.M sensor for motion data and an EC.W sensor for measurement. The sensors measure the movement, temperature and wear of the four energy chains and send the measured values to the i.Sense module. Through the connection to the igus cloud, the data is evaluated with the findings from the igus laboratory in Cologne and the data received from the customers machine. The integration of the analysed data is done by the Güdel condition monitoring system. By networking the components, the user of the machine can check the condition of the used energy chains during operation. This means that machine maintenance can be planned and expensive downtimes are avoided. You can also learn more in the video here from our two experts:

Predictive maintenance as the supreme discipline of smart maintenance

If the monitoring data is collected on an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform, a machine history can be built up over time. Comprehensive platforms such as the FIELD system from Fanuc are ideal for this purpose. Or locally based solutions such as the i.Cee:local from igus. This allows to advance the supervised learning on the machine even further: if trends have been observed over a longer period of time, predictions can be made about component wear. This is the step towards predictive maintenance. What’s more, the history can be used to observe whether certain process parameters promote wear, in which case the processes can be adjusted accordingly.

The most important advantages of smart maintenance – intelligent maintenance

In conclusion, the most important points about smart maintenance with igus smart plastics can be summarised as the following benefits for companies in the manufacturing industry:

  • Downtime is prevented
  • Better safety and risk management
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Increased efficiency and continuous improvement through better maintenance

*Guarantee information: The igus® e-chain® guarantee of up to 36 months is valid for the number of double strokes calculated according to the online service life calculator: igus.eu/info/energy-chains-service-life-calculator. The conditions of guarantee can be viewed at: igus.eu/info/e-chain-guarantee
1 https://wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de/definition/smart-maintenance-54230
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