The Luxembourg train company CFL needed an energy chain system that could withstand the demanding environment and high loads of train washing. igus supplied a solution that not only functions extremely reliably, but also monitors the condition of the washing systems with intelligent sensor technology and plans maintenance in advance.
The problem: Energy chains must defy external extreme influences
To ensure the well-being of the 20 million train passengers per year, the local and long-distance trains of the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois (CFL) are thoroughly washed every week. The train washing station used for this purpose is the most modern in Europe. To ensure that different train lengths can be cleaned efficiently, there are four wash trolleys on each side of the train, which travel along 66-meter sections of the train. Each wash trolley is connected to a large number of hoses and lines for energy, compressed air, water, cleaning agents and data exchange, which are embedded in energy chains.
The entire system is operated automatically and is exposed to high loads such as air humidity, wetness, chemical cleaning substances and dirt particles. The energy chains are particularly at risk because they must always function perfectly under these conditions. A failure of the energy chain system would bring the washing process to a standstill – then the rail vehicle could remain locked in the wash hall and no longer be available for the planned train runs. The consequences would be breakdowns and unplanned costs.
The solution: Digitally connected polymer energy chains with intelligent sensor technology for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance
The Cologne-based company igus serves 188,000 companies from over 80 countries around the world. For more than 50 different industries such as the automotive or packaging industry, railroad or agricultural technology, machine tool manufacturing or in the field of renewable energies, they seek and find a solution for every application – smart products from the fields of energy chains, cables, plain bearings, linear technology, bar stock, 3D printing and low-cost automation.
For the train company CFL, igus has found an ideal solution with smart plastics. smart plastics means energy chain systems, chainflex cables and plain bearings equipped with smart sensor technology. This makes a complex automation solution Industry 4.0-compatible as simple as possible. The solution consists of fail-safe polymer energy chains designed for long travels. The integrated intelligent sensor technology consists of the i.Sense EC.P condition monitoring system and the i.Cee predictive maintenance sensor technology.
i.Sense EC.P is equipped with pullforce measurement sensors installed at one end of the e-chain. They continuously measure the push and pull forces acting on the e-chain – because the vast majority of failures are preceded by a sudden increase in force caused by foreign objects, snow and ice, etc. If predefined force limits are then exceeded during operation, the i.Sense EC.P system detects the incident and shuts down the system very quickly to prevent expensive damage.
For predictive maintenance, i.Cee uses data from condition monitoring, as well as temperature, travel speed and distance traveled. i.Cee consists of sensors, hardware and data collection and evaluation, and provides the operator with information on maintenance and inspection.
At the heart of the system is the i.Cee software. It receives and processes the data from the sensors. From this, it creates the prerequisite for an intelligent, condition-based and individual service life calculation as well as continuous monitoring of the energy chains and the plain bearing system. Algorithms adjust the service life and service timing according to use.
There are basically two options for data transmission: With i.Cee:local, the software communicates exclusively within the desired internal network and never leaves the company premises. With the Internet-based solution, the data goes either directly, or via a data concentrator into the cloud, where it is made available in a protected area by means of a browser dashboard. The i.Cee.net data concentrator is located on site, which means that data exchange to the cloud can be stopped or adjusted at any time if necessary.
The result: Higher availability of the washing station, no more unplanned breakdowns
By using the smart plastics solution, i.e. the interaction of fail-safe energy chains, i.Sense EC.P, and i.CEE, unforeseen operational failures are a thing of the past. Not only are total damages avoided, but the operator receives precise information in advance about when damages will occur and how they can be prevented.
As a result, expensive, unplanned breakdowns are avoided, maintenance and servicing costs are reduced, and the components used are utilized to their maximum service life. igus provides a quick and easy step towards integration into networked Industry 4.0 concepts.