Healthcare company finds durability, reliability in igus® cables

chainflex® helps Abbott Labs develop enduring solution for long-travel basket loader

August 17, 2021 – One of the world’s leading manufacturers of medical products has found durability and dependability with igus chainflex cables on a long-travel basket loader for baby nutritional drinks.

Abbott Labs installed 33-foot and 20-foot chainflex® cables on a basket loader after cables on the previous units failed after three months. The units complete 1,500 cycles per day.

The loader has a moving carriage with a track above it that places bottles into a basket at the end of the packaging cycle. The head attached to the carriage includes sensors and other electronics. The cable that had been installed to communicate with the carriage needed replacement after three months. A customized, and more costly, solution installed in an effort to gain more extended service life failed after four months.

“Because it is moving from end to end, the loader was causing a lot of wear on the cables and it just kept wearing out,’’ said Todd Mumford, a Senior Manufacturing Engineer who works in the Abbott Nutrition Supply Chain in Columbus, Ohio. “We had to replace the cable every three months and we had to make sure we replaced it before it failed.”

Problem Solver

With the frequent monitoring and replacement of the cable, the team at Abbott sought a more enduring solution.

An electrician new to the Abbott team recommended a switch to the igus chainflex cables. Mumford doubted the durability of the igus cables, but found them to be much more reliable than previous parts. “We don’t have the downtime that we had in the past,’’ he said.

The igus cables used in the application have an unsupported travel distance of up to 1,312 feet and are guaranteed for up to 10,000,000 cycles. igus CFBUS cables are used for very high mechanical load requirements, and include a TPE outdoor jacket. The shielded cables are oil and bio-oil resistant, flame retardant and hydrolysis and microbe-resistant, which are critical features in this application. The cables also have a 10 x d bend radius.

The solution for this project included customized CFBUS-301 cables. CFBUS cables are used in a wide range of applications, including high-bay warehouses, indoor cranes, semiconductor insertion, cleanroom and machine handling.

Long-lasting cable

The replacement cable in the unit is still operating efficiently, more than 18 months after it was installed.

“For this application, the primary benefit is the long life,’’ Mumford said. “It can bend a lot tighter and a lot more times than the cable we had been using. We expect we will get at least two years out of the cable. I was shocked at how well it has done.”

Abbott is a global healthcare leader whose portfolio of life-changing technologies spans the spectrum of healthcare, with leading business and products in diagnostics, nutritional and branded generic medicines.

For more information about igus cables, please visit the igus website.

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