igus to mass-produce sensor products for Industry 4.0 era, acquires Atronia

Strategic move to acquire the Portuguese company will enable igus to expand its portfolio for networked plastic components and mass-produce Industry 4.0 products, making them accessible to small and medium-sized companies.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 27 Jun 2024 Views icon1358 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
igus to mass-produce sensor products for Industry 4.0 era, acquires Atronia

Motion plastics specialist igus is bullish on demand for smart plastic products derived from smart manufacturing. From networking, automation and artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0 technology is leading to greater productivity, agility and system safety worldwide. The company, in March 2024, acquired the majority stake in Portuguese company and sensor specialist Atronia Tailored Sensing.

With this strategic step, igus intends to expand its portfolio for networked plastic components. The aim is to mass-produce Industry 4.0 products and make them accessible to small and medium-sized companies.

Over the years, igus has been investing in R&D to develop new types of smart plastics – plain bearings, energy chains and cables that are equipped with sensors and integrated into the Internet of Things. Intelligent predictive-maintenance software calculates optimum maintenance times and alerts technicians in good time via e-mail and text message in the event of critical conditions to prevent expensive system failures.

Atronia Tailored Sensing has been a cooperation partner in the development of these smart plastics for around five years. The sensor specialist determines the current state of the igus products, i.e. teaches them to feel.

"The goal of the strategic decision is to mass-produce sensor products for the Industry 4.0 era. By acquiring Atronia, we can harmonise the processes, systems and teams of both companies even better, which will lead to synergies and efficiency gains in the long term," said igus CEO e-chain Systems Michael Blass. "This allows us to start series manufacturing for the Industry 4.0 era and make the products accessible to small and medium-sized companies with limited budgets and little experience," he added.

Carlos Alexandre Ferreira, Manager at Atronia Tailored Systems, commented: "The acquisition of Atronia by igus is a promising partnership that will undoubtedly lead to further breakthrough innovations and improved technology integration."

First joint project: service life sensor for energy chain

igus and Atronia got to know each other in 2019 as stand neighbours at the Sensor + Test trade show in Nuremberg.

"After initial technical discussions, it quickly became clear that both companies have the same vision of a barrier-free Industry 4.0," said Richard Habering, Head of the smart plastics Business Unit at igus. This led to a first joint project.

Atronia built the electronics for a sensor called EC.W. Mounted on the crossbars of energy chains, the sensors record the current state and remaining service life of the chain's side sections. The sensor was introduced to the market for just 259 euros (Rs 22,760), a fraction of the cost of commercially available predictive-maintenance systems (prices may vary across countries).

"Customer feedback on the cost-effective and intuitive sensor solution has been excellent," said Habering. "We therefore decided to intensify our collaboration with Atronia. We are looking forward to working with the Portuguese sensor experts in future and are excited about further trend-setting products."

The company now manufactures several hundred modules from the i.Cee series from igus in Portugal. The modules make it possible to analyse sensor data from anywhere in the world using a web-based dashboard, exploit the maximum service life of products and optimally plan maintenance work.

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