Saturday, June 23, 2018
Home/Current Issue >  Industry Articles > 

A Lean Solution for Today's Manufacturing
A part of the cable assemblyfloor.

Specifying cable carrier systems had once been quite complex, purchasing cables from one supplier, carriers from another, and connectors and accessories from additional companies. But adoption of lean manufacturing practices is guiding many companies to streamline their acquisition actions and to purchase their cable carrier systems preassembled and tested, such as a preharnessed ReadyChain® system from igus®, Inc. Doing so can streamline this process and eliminate the need for multiple vendors, purchase orders, and shipments. It can also eliminate the unwanted costs of scrap inventory, reworking, labor variances, and delays in production.

The simplicity of one part number, one lead time, and one complete shipment helps relieve the stress of ordering. Reducing process costs can help machine and system engineering firms survive in competitive markets, and preassembled ReadyChain cable carrier systems from igus can help. The firm's technical sales representatives and engineers assist with designing, assembling, and testing the units, helping to trim delivery times and costs in the process. The company's experience is also an invaluable resource for customers seeking optimum solutions for different applications. igus constantly updates its product portfolio, largely based on customer inputs, and subsequently integrates these updates into its ReadyChain solutions.

Harnessing ReadyChain Systems
By harnessing ReadyChain systems with its own line of Chainflex® continuous flexing cables, igus helps to further reduce costs and risks for customers. Designed for moving while in use, Chainflex cables are tested and guaranteed to work in a wide range of applications. The Chainflex line includes more than 600,000 preassembled cables, covering a broad range of plug connections. The cables are available with more than 3,500 different plug components; the firm's more than 450 injection molding machines enable attachment of the correct plug for each application. By having the available components and the manufacturing capabilities, the company is in a strong position to provide standard or custom solutions for every customer.
Fully tested ReadyChain systems are fully guaranteed to work

Many companies have benefitted from the use of preharnessed ReadyChain systems. For example, Flow International (, a supplier of custom waterjet machine tools and robotic gantry systems for a wide range of industries, including aerospace and automotive markets, had used Energy Chain® systems from igus for its cable carrier needs for many years; but Flow purchased and integrated the cables, connectors, and needed accessories in its own plant. After working with igus, Flow International eased its purchasing and installation and decreased manufacturing time by 15 percent by purchasing and installing ReadyChain systems complete with Chainflex cables and connectors.

Quality Throughout
Not every component supplier is compatible with igus' high standards. Third-party sourced parts must provide state-of-the art quality to ensure all igus systems will remain viable. They must also be tested for quality to ensure superior longevity. These standards apply to all of igus' suppliers, including plug-connection segments. Plugs and connectors from Intercontec Produkt (, Harting (, and Phoenix Contact ( are often used because of the high level of quality. These premium quality connectors have been proven in applications spanning robotics, drive technology, automation and mechatronics, and the food and beverage industry. The connectors dependably accelerate high-torque motors, spindle drives, etc. to maximum RPMs, and easily handle millions of abrupt start and stop maneuvers when tested in demanding environments.

Power Connectors
Power connectors from German supplier Intecontec have had such an excellent track record that igus uses them throughout various applications of the ReadyChain systems. The connectors are splash and short-term-immersion protected, with an IP rating of 66/67 when plugged in. Crimping depths and forces are automatically measured during the machine assembly, and the insertion of the contacts into the insulation elements is 100 percent safe. The modular system approach makes it possible to combine a wide variety of components to create exactly the part necessary for each system.

Harting, also of Germany, relies on nearly 70 years of company experience to create "Han" modular connectors. This connector allows users to insert a variety of termination styles, and accommodates circuits along with fiber-optic or compressed-air lines in a single connector.

Phoenix Contact offers hundreds of high-quality off-the-shelf connectors, including the most complete metric thread line on the industrial controls market. Like ReadyChain, Phoenix Contact also works with customers to provide custom solutions as needed. By working closely with customers, the firm can understand individual needs and provide faster and more personalized service.

Connectors and other parts chosen by igus for ReadyChain solutions are from companies that hold to the same values: tested, proven tested quality, and customer support. In addition, the firm is constantly on the lookout for new suppliers who uphold this commitment to quality and design flexibility. Looking for low-cost, high-quality parts ensures that ReadyChain customers always receive the best solution for the best price.

Not a single ReadyChain product leaves the plant without first being thoroughly inspected and tested. Dale Rheaume, Operations Manager for ReadyChain Systems, says: "We assure customers that we deliver systems they simply have to plug in for their application to run." The company even makes sure that no time is wasted during the unpacking process and installation/plug-in process. The packaging design makes handling considerably easier.

Extensive Testing
All ReadyChain Systems are tested extensively before being shipped to customers. igus performs thousands of product assessments each year in its company laboratory, which is the largest laboratory of its kind in the industry. Electrical components are checked on Cirris equipment, all connectors and connections are inspected, and a variety of performance evaluations are run on each system. Before a system has been ordered, a huge amount of testing has been done on each component, and the corresponding data are incorporated into the company's online product selectors and product lifetime calculators. Energy Chain systems are extensively tested for wear, friction, speed, and strength, and igus' continuous-flexing Chainflex cables are assessed over millions of cycles for flexing and torsion. Both the cables and carriers are also tested together, allowing the firm to ensure that the cables and carriers are designed and engineered to work and last as a single, reliable unit.

Rheaume explains: "When it comes to ensuring quality and saving money, customers are on the safe side with these solutions. igus quality assurance inspects and assesses each ReadyChain System for functional safety on special testing systems before it is passed on to the logistics department. The company has a large number of testers in our company laboratory." igus can deliver finished systems anywhere in the world within 1 to 10 business days. In addition to its North American headquarters (East Providence, RI), the company manufactures ReadyChain systems in 10 other production facilities around the world.

Recently, the company added a modular, design-based transportation and installation framework for ReadyChains. Developed in-house, the focus of these "ReadyChain Rack" solutions is to reduce process costs and installation time and cost, and to get machines up and running as quickly as possible. Comprised of modular supports, angles, and crossbars, the transportation/installation systems also have a telescoping feature, allowing the length or height of the rack to be adjusted as needed. A variety of lock-in mechanisms offer additional options based on retrofit components. Not only does this reduce installation time required, it also ensures that the development and setup can be completed in a single day and production can begin or resume much earlier than with traditional, self-assembled systems.

Rheaume concludes: "We don't engage in conventional assembly work; we are a provider of complete solutions. Our focus is principally on the client company and its processes. Integrative, system focused thinking, dominates our day-to-day assembly work." The goal of the company is to provide complete solutions with no compromise in performance.

In-house material development, manufacturing, harnessing, and testing allow igus to maintain the highest standards for their products. Strong support by the company's engineers, product experts, and its years of research translate into unmatched customer support and the capability to specify, assemble, test, and install a ReadyChain System that is custom-tailored to a particular application and that is guaranteed to work.


Contact: igus, Inc., P. O. Box 14349, East Providence, RI 02914 800-521-2747


search login