igus Introduces New Monitoring Sensors to Promote Preventive Maintenance in Industrial Applications

December 29, 2021 by Shawn Dietrich

What are these new monitoring sensors from igus, and how could the chainflex feature help engineers with their predictive and preventive maintenance needs?

I. Sense Monitoring Sensors

igus is known for its predictive maintenance products. They claim to be the creators of “smart plastic,” a product line of cable tracks, cables, and sensors to determine wear on replaceable plastic products. 


igus’ new monitoring sensors. Image used courtesy of igus 


The company recently debuted their latest line of monitoring sensors, the i.Sense. These sensors clip onto the cable that resides within a flexible cable track and reports on the cable’s transmission properties. 

The sensors are attached before and after the cable track and are compact enough to fit inside a distribution box that would rest on the moving side of the cable track. igus also has predictive maintenance software that works with the smart plastic product line. 


How the Sensors Work

The i.Sense monitoring sensors use high-frequency signals that do not require sacrificial cores and work without contacting existing cores. Due to the high-frequency technology, any deterioration in the signal from transmitter to receiver will be determined as a deterioration in the quality of the cable. 


A diagram showing how igus’ sensors work. Image used courtesy of igus 


Essentially, the i.Sense works like an inline network quality control device. The quality of the signal is measured before the cable enters the flexible cable track, and again when the cable leaves the cable track. If there is quality loss at the exit point of the cable track, warnings and alarms can be triggered. 



The entire cable monitoring system consists of a few components and is only compatible with Ethernet cables. The device that does the monitoring is the i.Sense, this device is looped into the ethernet cable at both the entrance and exit of the cable track, kind of like an ethernet switch. 

The data from the sensor can be read using the i.Cee:plus module. The data collected can then be used to determine when the cables should be replaced. The next step in the monitoring system is the cables themselves. 


A chart showing the chainflex cable capabilities. Image used courtesy of igus 


The igus Chainflex cables work with the i.Sense monitoring system without additional modules or software. There are three condition monitoring models; cable push/pull force, cable electrical property, and transmission quality. Each measurement would require that specific i.Sense device.


Industry Uses

In today’s fast-paced world, assembly or machine downtime can cost companies money and customers a lot of money. This is why predictive maintenance is so important. 

When deciding which components might fail first, engineers and maintenance staff will typically look for the most range and frequency of motion. Flexible cable tracks typically have the most range and frequency of motion. 

This is why igus has focused its “Smart Plastics” product line on flexible cable tracks. Most cables are listed for flexible applications, but how many times can that cable be flexed before it fails? Being able to monitor the quality of the cable and know when it is starting to fail can prevent unnecessary downtime and prevent unnecessary replacement of cables. 

igus hopes their new products will help engineers significantly cut downtime on the factory floor.