Manufacturing and processing machinery that handle large, long items, frequently use overhead gantries to transfer the material to, through and from the processing line.  Often these gantries have to travel significant distances, whilst requiring electrical cabling to power their motors and sensors.  The conventional cable management method is to have the cables mounted above the line using festoons supported by steel rails.  As the gantry traverses down the line, it pulls the cables along with it on multiple trolley mechanisms.

Jacquet Weston Engineering (JWE), a Berkshire, UK based manufacturer of surface finishing equipment, looked to igus® for support with their continuous improvement program.  JWE has been manufacturing metal finishing process plants for over 40 years, supplying all sectors of the industry from the traditional subcontract market of Acid and Alkali Zinc to the specialist aluminium treatment and aerospace industries with Sulphuric, Tartaric, Chromic, Boric and Hard Anodising processes.

igus® recommended its E2/000 e-chain® system, used by a large number of manufacturers worldwide, to address cable management on all of JWE’s lines utilising transporters to dip metal jigged components into the process solutions.  This removed the need for the overhead cable loops and trolleys offering increased efficiency and reliability to the processing line, whilst the absence of cable loops also satisfied customer requirements for health and safety.  The overall height of the equipment was reduced, allowing greater flexibility for machine placement within a facility.

The 1500 series e-chain® can be used for guided travels of up to 75m. It can be opened from either side for cable insertion, and is suitable for both vertical and horizontal installations.  For dual transport systems, opposing centre-fed energy chains are used for a more space- and cost-effective solution.  The e-chain® is placed into horizontally mounted 2m long guidefast guide troughs, the segments being connected together with clips that ensure good alignment.  This e-chain® product is used extensively in industry for replacing festoons as it can be easily installed to the side of an I-beam or bulkhead rather than mounting on top like a traditional e-chain trough, thus saving on installation height.

The E2/000 e-chain® is a 4th generation product for igus®, utilising years of accumulated experience.  It offers quick installation, excellent mechanical stability, low audible noise operation, minimal maintenance and a long service life for cables.

“Every facility requires electrical cabling to enable the control of transportation systems to access the full length of the process tanks involved,” says Nick Weston, JWE’s Managing Director.  “Conventionally, this has seen cable supply looped along the line with steel supporting racks and trolleys positioned at key points to accommodate loadings, which can be significant.  Now, with this latest development, not only can the need for this approach be eliminated in many cases, but other aspects of installation efficiency can also be enhanced.”

“We owe much of our success to a continuous commitment to product and process line development and this latest step forward is evidence of that approach,” continues Nick Weston.  “The decision to opt for the igus® system reflects not only on the functionality of the energy chain design but also the quality of the materials and linkage systems used – both of which highlight the challenges of many process line installation environments.  This is an important step forward and one that we are sure will be acknowledged by every customer.”

JWE opted to use a fully-harnessed readychain® system, complete with chainflex® cables.  These rigorously tested cables prevent downtime in energy chain applications, minimise abrasion, have safety certification and are covered by the igus® chainflex® guarantee.