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With its new communication module (icom.plus), Cologne-based manufacturer igus offers the option of configuring intelligent e-chains, i.e. energy chains made from wear-resistant tribo-polymers are networked with cables and bearings from the smart plastics series. A process of continuous comparison with igus’s database enables icom.plus to estimate the service life of components, thereby avoiding unexpected shutdowns and associated costs. The values of around 10 billion annual test cycles performed in igus’s test laboratory are stored in this database. The prediction also takes into account sensor values relating to the ambient conditions and leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to obtain accurate information and automatically initiate maintenance work and/or the ordering of replacement parts.

Predictive maintenance is a key Industry 4.0 technology. Consulting firm Roland Berger expects the global market for predictive maintenance to grow between 20% and 40% per year through 2022.