Chainflex cables with IPA cleanroom rating for more reliability

No abrasion, no particles – and durable. The path to
the IPA cleanroom rating is not easy; products have to pass a multitude of
tests before they receive the official certificate from the Fraunhofer
Institute. This is the same for igus chainflex cables. They have to withstand
different conditions in the in-house test laboratory over a longer period of
time. igus has developed the CFBUS.LB.045 and CFBUS.LB.049 in order to provide
users with cleanroom-compatible Ethernet cables. In the test, they successfully
completed over 24 million strokes without failure with just 55mm bend radius.

An impressive 21,900 hits are returned when you search
for bus problems on the internet. This is amazing, because actually bus
technology embodies the progress in automation like no other. How can this be
explained? As a rule, companies that use fieldbus cables today have a clear
objective: to combine many sensor cables on field devices into one cable that
can be easily and quickly routed to a centralised or decentralised control
system. The advantage is that the total cost of ownership (TCO) can be reduced,
since an integration of all communication functions into a single network already
promises significant savings potential during assembly. For many controllers,
however, that remains just a theory, over the entire lifecycle. This is often
because they tried to save money in the wrong place, with connector and cable.
Incidentally, this is not a phenomenon that is only found with classic bus
cables: forum posts often reveal connectors and cables as the cause of
connection problems for Ethernet cabling, network connections or fibre optic
cables.

One solution is to buy preassembled cables. The user
who selects these bus systems, keeps the installation costs of their
manufacturing plant low and ensures long-term optimal transmission qualities. A
positive side-effect when buying harnessed bus cables: the significantly leaner
storage and spare parts inventory. However, the theory does not necessarily
match the practice: incorrect connectors and cables can delay commissioning or
repair. Often all the measuring devices are then ‘on green’, but nothing
happens where something should be moving. The consequence is often the
replacement of all systemically relevant components. Because, for many
companies this is sometimes more efficient than troubleshooting – which the
igus test laboratory undertakes. The objective was to develop products that precisely
exclude these problems during installation and maintenance.

In thousands of tests in the in-house laboratory, the
engineers test cables in motion and in combination with a large number of
plug-in connectors, contacts or core end ferrules for functionality and service
life. The result: Several hundred harnessed cables, which are used, for
example, in energy chains as the bus cable of the chainflex family.

Faultless contact

Whenever Profinet cables or Ethernet connections are
exposed to highly dynamic loads, the link between connector and cable is
decisive. This is because the biggest weaknesses are to be found in dynamic
applications such as robotic production lines. In order to ensure maximum
operational safety and error-free data transmission even after thousands of
hours of moving operation, two decisive evaluation criteria are required:
first, a cable that does not change its electrical behaviour, even after many
millions of movements, which means the defined attenuation values and
characteristic impedances must not shift too much; second, a faultless contact
between connector and cable cores, an exact fixation of the connector to the
system and a snug fit of the terminal brackets in the plug-in connector. This
is exactly where the problems start in most cases: countless companies offer an
almost infinite variety of bus cable and connector combinations. They all have
to work together. However, this is where theory and practice diverge, because
statistically this is rather unlikely.

igus took up this challenge: it focused on the
development of bus cables and their long service life in motion. In addition,
the focus was placed on tests involving well-known connector manufacturers, who
in addition to the functional reliability of the electrical connection, also
had an optimal coordination to each other’s goal.

Relaxed
bus pairs ensure safety

Numerous tests in the igus laboratory showed that the
so-called Insulation Displacement Contact (IDC) brings everything that makes
the perfect permanent fit of a conductor in a connector, if the selected
conductors and insulation materials match it. Here the insulated conductor is
first pressed into a gap. This tapers, whereby its flanks are designed as a
cutting edge. If the conductor and clamp are brought together, the blades cut
through the insulation and strike the conductor. As a result, a contact is
formed, which, due to the long-term stable cold welding, is gas-tight and
therefore does not age. Corrosion by the ingress of oxygen as well as chemical
reactions is prevented, as they may occur in automated processes of
petrochemistry.

Global
regulatory approval requirements

The many certified components and cables secure
companies an uncomplicated entry into the digital world and Industry 4.0
anywhere in the world. The fact that stable systems and secure processes are
extremely important for the establishment of Industry 4.0 can also be seen from
the growing number of industrial robots in use worldwide. An estimated 2.6
million robots will already be in operation next year, many of them with
certified chainflex cables. At the same time, these are also examples of a
successful combination of cable and bus elements of the CF bus families for
Ethernet and Profinet. In order to ensure data transmission over a long period
of time and in adverse conditions, the elements were stranded with a
particularly short pitch length. In addition, they are protected by a
gusset-filling extruded TPE inner jacket. This relieves the bus pair
mechanically and fixes the cores in a defined position. The combination of
design details, IDC technology and precisely fitting (bus) cable altogether
ensures stable data transmission in a manufacturing or industrial process. Here
it does not matter whether it is the classic manufacturing process in the
automotive industry, or use in the harsh environment of the petrochemical
industry or safe handling under cleanroom conditions: the core requirements for
a cable can be defined in detail by a multitude of configuration parameters. It
starts with choosing the right connectors, their design or the manufacturer;
then it goes on to details such as travels and ends up with the choice of
specific requirements, which in many cases call for certification. Stable
processes and compliance with regulatory requirements not only keep the total
cost of ownership transparent, but they also keep it within limits.

The new chainflex bus cables are available from
Treotham Automation.

For more information, please visit the Treotham
Automation website www.treotham.com.au
or call 1300 65 75 64.

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