23 Jul 2024


Automation slashes drive cable lead times from weeks to 24h

Igus’ automated cable assembly line will allow 24-hour turnarounds

igus has commissioned an automated assembly line for its readycable drives cables at its UK headquarters in Northampton. The line uses automated machines and lean manufacturing methods to streamline its manufacturing processes, and can produce fully-harnessed drive cables ready for shipping within 24 hours of an order being placed.

“A few years ago, our sole focus was on selling plastic bearings, energy chains and cables with little assembly work,” says igus UK managing director, Matthew Aldridge. “More recently we have stepped into robotics and automation based on our component parts and are now investing in automation ourselves to enable us to move into assembly within the UK.”

Historically, igus used to assemble cables in a laborious manual process that involved cutting back the outer jacket, teasing out the shielding, then stripping the jackets off each of the inner cores and adding crimps. These operations are fully automated on the new line, which is also said to ensure 100% assembly quality.

“We have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on machines to automate this process, cutting lead times from six, or even 10, weeks down to 24 hours,” Aldridge reports. “The chainflex cable is cut to length from our extensive stock held in Northampton and all common connector components are available ex-stock.

“Customers will usually receive their readycable the next working day, fully-tested with a guaranteed service life,” he adds. “All this automation does not mean that we will be shedding jobs. The automated assembly line will enable us to grow our business, creating more jobs for the area.”

•  igus has launched a service that will recycle plastic energy chains made by any manufacturer. Users can send their chains to igus, thus eliminating disposal costs. They will also receive a voucher for £0.25 per kg of recycled chain, that they can use to make purchases from igus.

Recycling of energy chains is rare because it costs too much to separate the materials and recycling them into usable granulates. Old chains are therefore usually thrown into skips and incinerated. In its “green chainge” recycling programme, igus will re-use the plastic from energy chains in new products.

As the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic energy chains, igus already recycles 99% of the plastic waste that it produces during manufacturing. The recycling service is being rolled out worldwide, starting in the UK and Germany.