iComm Box: All-in-one system for next generation condition monitoring

A new igus communication module combines i.Sense sensors and the “superwise” service for low-cost, fast and reliable condition monitoring in real time to avoid costly failures. 

Optimising operational process

es and minimising downtime: the iComm Box from igus can help. Inside the new communication module, igus i.Sense condition monitoring sensors are smoothly integrated into “superwise” – a new igus service that protects users from unexpected failures in e-chain applications. Intelligent algorithms provide detailed analyses of the condition of the machines and systems. The superwise dashboard provides information in real time and enables optimal monitoring and control. Also the costs for the data transmission are included in the product price. 

Stopping a process immediately before a mechanical defect can avoid expensive consequential damage: this works best when smart technology supports human monitoring. igus has offered intelligent i.Sense sensors for several years, which monitor the condition of moving machine components such as energy chains, cables, linear guides, plain and spherical bearings as well as slewing ring bearings. In the event of an anomaly, the sensors immediately trigger a message or an automatic system stop to avoid damage.  

 “The new iComm Box now opens up the simple and low-cost possibility of expanding these sensors’ functionality,” explains Justin Leonard, director of e-chains and cables at igus UK. iComm Box connects the sensors to the igus superwise service, enabling fast and reliable data transmission.” All messages are stored with measured values in the i.Cee Portal of igus and can be referenced later for diagnostic purposes.  

Firstly, intelligent algorithms use the sensor data to calculate, for example, the movement profile of an energy chain. Based on the analysis, precise predictions can be made about the chain’s condition. The superwise dashboard clearly displays real-time information on service life, maintenance recommendations or information in the event of anomalies. “This ensures that the full potential service life of the chain utilised while minimising the risk of failures,” says Leonard. 

Fast ROI with maximum security 

Users of the communication module include companies from the process industries such as sewage treatment plants and concrete plants, container cranes in ports, and manufacturing activities including automotive production lines. The new solution enables a quick return on investment as it can streamline maintenance management and prevent costly downtime. “One minute of system failure costs up to £10,000 in the a

utomotive industry,” says Leonard. “If we prevent just a few seconds with the iComm Box, that is quickly actioned, the investment has paid for itself.”  

And this is how the iComm Box works, illustrated by the i.Sense EC. P Sensors that measure push-pull forces in the energy chain: The measured values are transmitted via a cable to an evaluation module in the control cabinet that can be connected to the PLC in order to initiate an automatic system stop in an emergency – for example, if a guide trough becomes loose and risks fouling the e-chain.  

And now there is the option of connecting this evaluation module to the iComm Box via an additional line. The communication module then sends the data to the superwise dashboard securely via a mobile network – encrypted, separate from the customer’s TCP-IP network and therefore with maximum security. There are no costs for this transfer: a new module includes a data flat rate for ten years.

igus takes responsibility for monitoring 

In the personalized dashboard, customers can see the remaining service life of the networked components at any time, as well as the best time for the next maintenance. “The dashboard is intuitive and very easy to use,” says Leonard. If companies have no time to monitor the systems themselves, igus can take over as part of the superwise service. The i.Cee Portal is directly connected to the igus CRM system, meaning that sales support staff are always informed about reports and automatically receive a corresponding task. For example, if a plant shuts down, fast part deliveries can be arranged, proactively reporting when action is needed – monitoring the dashboard is not necessary. “This service strengthens and supports the human resources of customers and their productivity, in times of a shortage of skilled workers,” explains Leonard. “With the iComm Box, we offer an all-in-one system so that you can optimally position yourself for the challenges of Industry 4.0.”