How Does the Classic e-chain® Cable Carrier Adapt to IoT & Industry 4.0?

In order to stay ahead of the competition, it is paramount that we are aware and understand the wishes of our customers “from the inside out”. Often, we are asked about possible IoT (internet of things) and Industry 4.0 solutions for our cable carriers, cables, plain bearings, and linear bearings that can help improve processes across the board. Various industries can make use of these "smart" components such as offshore, food production or robotics.

The Age of Technology

These days, customized production at the lowest cost with the shortest delivery times is often only possible through the use of highly complex automation solutions. Terms such as “Industry 4.0”, “Internet of Things”, and “predictive maintenance” are used to describe technologies and concepts that aim to improve the effective use of all machines, components and resources to optimize efficiency.

Industry 4.0 graphic of a man holding a phone, a group of hexagonal tiles with logos off to the side

Terms such as Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, predictive maintenance describe technologies and concepts for the most effective use of all machines, components and resources used.

Costly Concepts

Often, these technologies involve very complex, and generally expensive, software and hardware concepts that need to network together with one another while also potentially transferring data to the “cloud”. This enables consultants and strategists to offer in-depth analytics and to develop case studies that can help optimize management and supply chain strategies. In regard to maintenance, new “smart” sensors are used to record machine data and the status of a machine’s condition, which can then be used to provide "predictive maintenance" information.

Sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it? Will these concepts bring the desired competitive advantage in the end? How do you even start? And, above all, what does igus® and the e-chain® cable carrier have to do with it?

Smart e-chain cable carriers using predictive maintenance in a factory for engine production

Intelligent energy chains in a factory for engine production. The option of predictive maintenance helps to eliminate enormously expensive machine downtimes.

Smart Plastics

“Intelligent” igus® e-chain® cable carriers, highly flexible cables, and dry-running, maintenance-free linear and plain bearings that utilize these IoT technologies are all together under a product umbrella known as smart plastics. These products are designed for use within thousands of plants and machines, throughout a wide variety of industries worldwide.

Condition monitoring drylin linear technology, with an LED status indicator

Condition monitoring drylin® linear technology: Like red, green, and yellow on a traffic light, the maintenance engineer can now see via an LED display on the slide of the drylin linear guide whether the slide film needs to be changed.

Two Main Categories

igus® smart plastics are divided into two main categories. First—products that are focused on condition monitoring, which monitor the status of a machine, and in the event that unexpected operating conditions occur, switch off or trigger an alarm to minimize potential negative effects. Second—igus® offers a range of online and offline concepts that function to predict upcoming, potential maintenance and communicate recommendations via the Internet (IoT) or your local network (offline).

IoT installation time banner


Thanks to extensive test results produced within our own test lab, we have always been able to reliably predict the lifespan of any igus® product, which is then documented with an up to 36-month guarantee (specifically for chainflex cables). However, in order to proactively plan for upcoming maintenance more effectively, or recognize potential failures at an early stage, it only made sense to allow these products and our e-chain® cable carriers to “speak” and make them “intelligent”.

igus chainflex testing facility


Predictive maintenance and condition monitoring are components of Industry 4.0. With the e-chain® cable carrier, chainflex® cable, and plain and linear bearing products mentioned, igus is pursuing the goals of improving safety and machine efficiency, along with reducing costs. 

To learn more about intelligent sensors on igus products for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, visit our site here.