Igus announces business expansion and Vector Awards

16 June 2008

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Igus announces business expansion and Vector AwardsIgus is announcing that it increased overall turnover by 16.5 per cent in its 2007 financial year. The consolidated group turnover increased to EUR276million from across its 26 branches around the world.

At a press conference, Frank Blase, the managing director, presented newly developed products from the range of plastic energy chains, special cables and polymer plain bearings. They all exhibit the following: minimising maintenance, increasing the service life of machines, and making assembly and use faster and easier. Construction work started on new production areas in November 2007. Blase said: "The factory is being expanded by more than 50 per cent, and production is due to start on the first completed areas as soon as autumn of this year [2008]." At the same time, large halls have been rented in a neighbouring property and these have already been put into operation.

Both Frank Blase and Harald Nehring are in overall charge of energy chain systems at Igus. They jointly presented the results of the European Vector Award competition, an initiative for innovative applications with energy chains or induction/wireless technologies. More than 80 entries were submitted, from Finland to France, from Romania to Great Britain, from Switzerland to Spain. The Vector Award is a joint initiative from Igus together with the tool machine laboratory (WZL) at RWTH Aachen, the Rhineland Technical Board (TÜV), Product Safety and Quality Division, and the Special Automation Association within the German Central Association for Electrical Engineering and the Electronics Industry (ZVEI). The energy chain competition is under the patronage of the Industrial Automation division of the Hanover Fair.

Gold: Rapid curves with energy chain E4/4

The golden Vector and EUR5000 in prize money went to Dipl Ing Markus Domeier from Güdel GmbH in Osterburken. The company has designed a customer-specific curve-compatible portal and transfer system for the automatic placement of truck shafts, in order to optimise production workflows. The multi-carrier system has several carriages and achieves higher system availability than comparable conventional linear link-ups. For the first time in industrial automation, an energy chain was used in a curved application with a very long travel distance. The Igus system E4/4 bridges both the 45m long travel distance and the 90-degree curve. Markus Domaier says: "The plastic energy chain E4/4 is very strong in long applications as well as in freely suspended applications lying on the side. In this case, the system was used lying on its side to be able to achieve the rapid curve movement."

Silver: E6 problem-free in top-level sport

The jury awarded the silver Vector to Daniel Pfleger from Rail & Tracking Systems GmbH, Winnweiler (see photo). The company manufactures systems for HD-TV transmission during track and field events, shows and concerts. For this application, the outside broadcasting vans have to be connected to the cameras by fibre-optic cables. At speeds of up to 14m/s, extremely fast accelerations and temperatures often up to 45degC on account of direct sun radiation, there is no room for error. The plastic energy chain E6 from Igus is used under these difficult conditions. The energy supplied is fast, yet particularly quiet and with low vibration, as current tests from RWTH Aachen and TÜV Rhineland have shown. The E6 has already been tested at 37dB(A) self-supporting at 1m/s in the Igus test laboratory.

Bronze: Sturdy E4/4 in a Scottish tidal power station

The bronze Vector went to Mike Galbraith from Fountain Design Limited in Bishop Auckland. The company's tidal turbine generates power through the tidal flow off the coast of the Scottish Orkney Islands. The turbine has a diameter of 6m. Under very aggressive environmental conditions, an Igus 4040 series energy chain protects the Chainflex motor and control cables during the lifting and lowering movements of the turbine. The travel distance is around 20m in a vertical direction, moving both above and below water. The lubricant and rust-free plastic energy chain has a very low maintenance level at open sea. Galbraith explains: “A metal chain not have met the combined climate related and mechanical requirements.”

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