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smart plastics in aluminium oxide production | igus


During the mining and subsequent storage of bauxite, a sedimentary rock for the production of aluminium oxide, a lot of dust is thrown up, which is a major challenge especially for the moving machine parts of the conveyor units. For this reason, Aluminium Oxid Stade GmbH (AOS), one of the major German alumina producers, decided to use smart energy chains, which are equipped with push/pull detection.
At AOS, the smart energy supply system is used three times. One is in a hall, where the dust load is at a maximum, and the other two applications are outdoors. However, the outdoor applications are characterised by a maximum travel length of 330 m.   

More about technology

The challenge

The heavy dust arising during the movement of bauxite is an enormous stress, especially for moving machine components. Before the energy chains, motor cable drums were used for the energy supply. The problem with the energy supply through the motor drums was that the cables were not always reeled in correctly, which ultimately resulted in machine breakdowns due to cable damage.
In addition to plant safety, safety for people plays an even greater role. Before the smart e-chain® was installed, in the event of crane failures or for maintenance purposes, you always had to climb 40 metres up the crane with a laptop to read the data. This was also always associated with a certain risk for humans.


The first decision in favour of a smart energy supply system from igus was made back in 2012, when the push-pull force measurement was still called PPDS (push/pull detection system). Now this technology is called EC. P (e-chain pull detection), which is much more space-saving and easier to install than before. AOS uses the EC. P System as a cleaning or maintenance reminder and states:"If the chain's travel becomes too obstructed by dust and dirt, the pull/push force detection system shuts the system down before damage occurs and we know it's time to clean the chain's travel again."
This is called "killing two birds with one stone", because expensive damage is avoided and you always know when it is time to clean the machine from dust and dirt. Simply smart.  

Floating moving end
Floating moving end with push-pull force measuring unit
rol e-chain with steel trough igus
Roller energy chain for less push/pull forces due to lower friction