In complex applications with high cycle rates, speeds and rates of acceleration, as well as adverse ambient conditions, cables used for energy supply must always be reliable. This is especially true for conveyor technology and handling equipment, such as that offered by GePaTec mbH in Kummerfeld. Their palletising plant for plastic granules is now causing a stir, because it has been operating without a single cable failure since its commissioning in Finland more than 15 years ago. What is special about the chainflex cables that are used here?
In the early years, GePaTec mbH (Gesellschaft für Prozessautomations-Technik mbH) in Kummerfeld near Hamburg made it their business to meet the steadily increasing demand for individual service, conversion and optimisation measures. However, since the tasks constantly developed and expanded to this day, there is hardly an area of automation and electrical engineering that the company does not deal with. Today, the GePaTec team primarily takes care of creating S5/S7 programmes or circuit diagrams, with both small switch boxes and highly complex switchgear being planned and manufactured in-house.
Various partnerships expand the range. The exclusive collaboration with Axler und Markmann GmbH (SAM) focuses on planning and construction. The complete filling or palletising systems including controls is carried out under the general management of SAM, for which the experts at GePaTec undertake the commissioning as well as the maintenance. The international client has a customer base that has its roots predominantly in Europe.
Particularly noteworthy is the case of a plant in Finland that has been palletising bagged plastic granulate there for a good 15 years. 1,500 bags are stacked on top of each other per hour – five pieces in one layer, eleven layers forming a pallet. The energy supply system must complete two double strokes per layer. The machine is also used around the clock and seven days a week at temperatures of + 5 to + 20°C.
The most important concern for the customer is reliable technology – especially in the area of energy supply. In material handling, for example, system availability is crucial for the success of the company. In the case of an unplanned downtime, it takes a while for a maintenance technician to be on site – especially if the customer is abroad.
In the area of energy supply systems, GePaTec relied entirely on igus products right from the start. In concrete terms, an energy supply chain of type 2500 and the control cables CF5.15.12 (12x1.5 mm², unshielded control cable) from the chainflex range from igus can now be found in the Finnish palletising system.
Beforehand, the energy supply chains and cables underwent numerous series of practical tests in igus' in-house laboratory, which take place under the most difficult operating conditions. The comprehensive test results collected during such tests can then be compiled in databases, and a comprehensive and up-to-date data pool is created. The decisive advantage of this data basis is better predictability of the product behaviour in the subsequent plant. In this way, precise and reliable information about the actual service life can be provided. Moreover, many new products have already been created based on the test results. For the customer, this ultimately means that he receives a reliable functional guarantee from igus.
In the case of the Finnish plant, the used control cable has withstood more than 41 million strokes according to calculations. The fact that these calculations are still very conservative is now shown by the concrete example of the palletising machine. So it was only after 15 years of continuous use and after a whole 73 million double strokes that the jacket broke - much to the delight of the customer and of igus. GePaTec CEO Heino Axler adds to this record-breaking performance: "If you observe the installation regulations, virtually the 'rules of the game' for interior separation and separators, the energy supply systems cause no problems whatsoever. We are the first and only point of contact for the end customer, and cable failures fall directly on us. “
In addition to the control cables used by GePaTec, the chainflex assortment also includes servo and measuring system cables, to name just a few. There is also a broad spectrum of bus systems. In the Ethernet area, for example, 30 different solutions are available from stock for the customer in their individual quality. A total of 1,244 cable types are available from stock, which also include a functional guarantee – tested for cold, chemicals, complex movements in robots or for demanding chain applications with very small radii. No matter which cable is chosen – every customer benefits from more than 25 years of experience in special cables. Product manager Muckes also brings up the buzzword 'guarantee': "igus is the only company to promise that the cables will last 36 months and up to 10 million double strokes and reliably transmit energy and data between machines. " This is because secure data transfer via Ethernet, for example, in dynamic applications is a central prerequisite for successful machine-to-machine communication in the factory.
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