With the need to reduce fuel consumption, mobile machine manufacturers often look to reduce their machine footprint and weight. Often, this is limited by all the components that need to be installed throughout the machine. For example, hydraulic hoses themselves are heavy even before the fluid is running through them so it’s important to make weight reductions where you can. But igus has devised one system to reduce hose and cable carrier weight by up to 50%.
With its YE hybrid energy supply systems, the plastics manufacturer has eliminated the need for heavy steel cable carrier systems, thus reducing carrier weight by 50%. igus first launched its YE.42 system in 2019, and has since added six more models — the YE.56, YEHD.108, YEHD.112, YRHD.108, and the iSet YE.
“The goal for the construction machinery applications is that that weight savings gets to be added back into the payload that the machine can carry,” said Dan Thompson, product manager. “There’s also some other ancillary benefits as well. We’ve done the calculations for the Genie (scissor lift) and the JLGs of the world, on just the weight savings in terms of shipping. It comes down to hundreds of thousands of pounds that they’re not having to pay to truck from place to place to place. Say they buy something like 3,000 chains a year; if you save 100 lb for each one, that’s 300,000 lb of weight that doesn’t need to be trucked from supplier to their production location.”
The hybrid chains provide 50% more unsupported length than plastic energy chains and have higher rigidity. The chains are easy to assemble and maintain due to their modular design, and operators can rely on work platforms or vertical lifts for a safe, lightweight, cost-effective, and quickly replaceable system.
Cherry pickers, construction machinery and lifting platforms face an identical challenge: a safe and compact vertical guidance of the cables and hoses. In these situations, users usually rely on tough and rigid steel chains. However, these are very heavy and difficult to install, and often need to be completely replaced when service or repair is needed. This means immense costs for machine operators and rental companies due to equipment downtime.
Machines like these typically house four to six hydraulic hoses and one or two cables in their energy chain systems, said Thompson.
The hybrid energy chain will work especially well for high unsupported travels. The supporting chain links of the new energy supply solution are made of steel and ensure high rigidity, whereas the pin/bore connection, the outer links and the crossbars are made of a tribologically optimized high-performance plastic. Although not fully tested for this, the rounded crossbar design can also help reduce hose abrasion as well, said Thompson.
“I could say that the separators and the plastic crossbars that we’ve designed, over many years are, are used as the interior separation of that product,” Thompson said. “They’re designed to be very cable and hose friendly, prevent that type of abrasion that you would get with a sharper crossbar or a crossbar made out of a harder material.”
The YE hybrid energy chain is the best mix of lightweight plastic and sturdy steel that handles high cantilevered paths with ease. The requirement was to achieve the highest possible cantilevered length with compact dimensions and the lowest possible weight. However, pure steel energy chains have the disadvantages of a high assembly effort and weight. The YE system combines the higher strength of steel elements with the low weight and flexibility of plastic components.
The modularity of the hybrid chain offers another advantage. The chain links are easy to combine and can be assembled quickly. igus completely dispenses with screws, rivets or bolts that can become loose due to vibration.
Also, hose and cables can be quickly replaced via the openable crossbars, another advantage over classic steel chains, which are usually completely riveted or bolted.
The YE models achieve achieve their high stability by means of an undercut design for locking the chain links. For the interior of the energy chain, igus offers a wide range of partitioning elements that ensure an interior separation friendly to cables and hoses.
They also are available as ready-to-install readychain systems with cables, hoses and hydraulic components already installed.