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Functionally reliable even in typhoon storms

Shanghai: Energy supply systems for shipyard cranes successfully in use since years

At the southern port of Shanghai's Pudong area, at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (SWS) is situated just opposite the Changxingdao port area. The Chinese shipbuilder SWS is one of the ten largest worldwide. Three shipyard cranes are currently in operation in this huge industrial area, the dimensions of which correspond to those of 30-storey high-rise buildings. The energy and data supply to the gigantic lifting elements is implemented with plastic energy chain systems from igus.


  • What was needed: Roller energy chains in igus steel guide troughs, "chainflex" cables, Push/Pull Detection System (PPDS)
  • Requirements: High corrosion resistance due to aggressive environmental conditions (rain, wind, salt water)
  • Industry: Ship building
  • Success for the customer: On-site consultation, installation and acceptance of the energy chain systems, regular testing

energy chain


Waigaoquiao Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (SWS) was faced with the task of finding a suitable solution for the energy and data supply for the gigantic lifting elements for three shipyard cranes. Due to the special location, the expectations and performance requirements of an appropriate solution were particularly high. At the huge port facility, which is located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, just opposite the Changxingdao port area, there are not only weather influences such as rain, but also whipping winds and the effects of salt water most of the time. These extreme influences are accompanied each year by a two-month rainy season, which poses an additional risk of corrosion and an additional challenge to the energy supply system. In order to avoid plant downtimes, the aggressive ambient conditions had to be countered with a highly functional and reliable response.


After energy chain systems from igus were installed on over 180 m of travel in 2001, they have been running trouble-free ever since, something that even a typhoon a few years ago could not change. The energy and data supply of the shipyard cranes and the 32-ton material crane is provided by low-friction roller energy chains in igus guide troughs made of steel. The chains are designed for high cable loads and long travels, even at high speeds.
In the energy chains, chainflex cables are used. Thanks to their highly wear-resistant TPE outer jacket, they also withstand extreme conditions. The cables are resistant to UV radiation, to corrosion by coolants, lubricants and organic oil and withstand temperatures from -35°C to +100°C.
A Push/Pull Detection System from igus® was also installed in this large plant for condition monitoring. The Push/Pull Detection System monitors the shifting forces of the energy chains online to prevent damage to the system as well as failures through preventive maintenance or remote intervention.

"Since its delivery, the igus energy supply system has been running smoothly and required only minimal maintenance. We have saved enormously on labour and materials as a result."
Zhang Quan, Head of the SWS Development Department

energy chain
energy chain

Spare parts on demand

SWS is also very satisfied with the ongoing on-site consulting by igus. Zhang Quan: "The service engineers contact us regularly to find out whether the system is working properly. " In order to save capacities and costs of its own warehousing, SWS keeps almost no igus spare parts in stock. They can be found in all sizes in the 3,000 m2 igus warehouse in the Waigaoquiao free trade zone, just 20 kilometres from where the cranes are used. Zhang Quan: "If we need something, all it takes is a call to igus or an e-mail."