ASIA September 2019
 
igus smart plastic solutions seek to achieve cost, time savings for customers in the F&B Industry
 
igus is a leading global supplier of smart plastic solutions to assist food and beverage (F&B) customers for all their individual moving applications at their manufacturing plants.
A recent interview with Sophian Saob, Product Manager for Bearings at igus has explored deeper into the application of igus products for the F&B industry. The following are excerpts from the interview:

How does igus fulfill the manufacturing needs of the F&B segment ?
Established in Germany in 1964, the goal of igus is to provide customers with the best product for their individual moving application, to reduce costs and improve the performance with tribo-polymer solutions. “If something needs to move, ‘we make it happen’.
High performance plastics are the core of our activities, our developments and our strategy and we are clearly focused on this material. We believe in the great advantages of these high-performance plastics for many different industries, including the Food & Beverage industry.
With the right product selection, tribo-polymers reduce maintenance requirements, increase lifetime of the application and can be used as an enhanced alternative to metal solutions in many environments.
Despite the ability of igus products to make movement happen, no oil or lubricants are needed for them. This is a great advantage for many products as there is literally no maintenance needed and ‘oily mess’ can be altogether avoided. This is particularly important for the F&B Industry and its strict requirement for Food Hygiene and Food Safety in all stages of the process.
igus offers moving plastics solution that are FDA Compliance and Maintenance free to eliminate contamination completely.
In order to create ‘plastic for longer life’, igus operates the largest test laboratory in our industry at our headquarters in Cologne. At the test lab more than 2 billion test cycles in more than 100 test set-ups are completed every year. With over 50 years of experience in developing Drytech Motion Plastic solutions, F&B industry is one of our focus market and has been one of the major contributor to our sales.

As F&B factories are moving towards sustainability as well as Industry 4.0, how can igus assist them to ‘fast-forward’ to this goal ?
We have been intensively developing smart plastics, the so called igus i-sense family over the past years. We manufacture, for example, igus chainflex cables for moving applications.
The most important objective in any automated manufacturing environment is that every element and machine must run as planned, because any down-time results in substantial financial losses and unnecessary wastage. Cables are of immense importance because if the conductors break or deteriorate in performance, the entire process or machine is disrupted or stopped. With our smart plastic solutions for chainflex cables, we are able to measure exactly this performance during operation. The cable literally controls itself and signals data or signal loss to a display or the operators handheld device. Preventive maintenance can then be scheduled without unexpected downtime. This represents a significant savings in time and money as compared to an unexpected halt in operations in a facility which does not utilise igus chainflex cables.
igus smart plastic family also covers other product range including linear bearings and energy chains.
In addition, our product focus is low-cost automation; we produce today robotic arms, the igus ‘robolink’ or delta robots, or only the moving tribo polymer components at a very cost-competitive prices. This industry represents substantial growth opportunities for us and we are assessing our approach in each segment in depth currently.

Can you elaborate more by giving some examples on the application of igus i-sense in the F&B manufacturing line ?
The igus i-sense family, as mentioned earlier, will help customers to detect abnormal indicators during the production process and as such, allows predictive maintenance prior to any possible machine breakdown. Just to name a few examples:

1) Our Liner Sliding elements in Drylin Linear Systems are linked to a sensor which will signal deteriorating performance and allows ideal time to replace it.
2) Same goes with our Plain Bearings where the integrated sensor will help to measure the wear.
3) In our Energy Chain Systems, integrated sensors are able to detect various performance indicators such as acceleration, speed, temperature, number of cycles, positioning, wear etc.

Which part of the F&B production process will find the greatest application of igus smart plastic solutions ? Can you also name a couple of successful Case Studies in Asia that relate to this application.
igus has many success application stories in the F&B segments, considering we are providing Maintenance Free Solution. We have wide applications in Filling, Cleaning, Meat Processing, Baking etc amongst many other applications.
Our several successful Case Studies in Asia include the following:

1) In the Tea Bagging manufacturing plant of an international market player in Indonesia, igus has replaced conventional ball bearings with its Xiros ball bearings that eventually help to solve problem of dirt resistant, and lubrication-free.
2) In the powder filling machine of one of our clients, we have replaced its metal-backing bushing with our iglidur Plain Bearings. We have successfully solved our customer problems in providing FDA compliant product and save cost for customer by eliminating wear on shaft component.

What do you foresee to be the future direction of the F&B industry in the ASEAN region and how does igus fit in to this future ?
ASEAN has seen healthy growth in its economy over the past couple of years with a growing middle-class population.
With higher disposable incomes, people have become more health-conscious and increasingly demand for nutritious high-quality food in their diets. This unprecedented growth in demand requires new machines that cope with higher production efficiency at lower cost production. Food manufacturers need to find ways to minimise their production cost to balance out with the rising cost of high quality raw materials in food.
This is the perfect playground for igus as we are providing cost effective solutions that works and, moreover, as an innovation company, we are committed to revolutionise the industry with various new igus products each year.

How important is the ASEAN region to igus ?
igus started in Asia with its first establishment in Japan back in 1990. Today, we have sales and service centres, warehouse and assembly facilities in all developed countries in Asia Pacific with the biggest set-up being located in China.
We started in ASEAN with a set-up in Singapore but now we have subsidiaries in major markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. We will continue to assess our customer needs and will continue to expand our network. With partners, we are already starting to penetrate into secondary but potential future markets such as Myanmar.
The growth opportunities in ASEAN and the region in general are tremendous and we will continue to focus our efforts here to bring superior solutions to our existing and new customers.
 
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