Frequently asked questions about igus® energy chains

e-chains®, or energy-chains, protect and guide moving cables and hoses. They go by a lot of names: cable carrier, cat track, drag chain and power-chain. They are usually made of plastic and occasional out of metal, though this has some drawbacks.

igus® readychain® systems are e-chain® systems supplied complete with cables, hoses, connectors and even custom metal work.  This allows them to be fitted quickly and easily to your machine, saving time and money.

igus® readychains can be supplied at 4 levels:

  • readychain® basic: energy chains supplied with cables and hoses installed and cut to length
  • readychain® standard: energy chains supplied with cables and hoses installed, cut to length complete with required connectors fitted and electrically tested
  • readychain® standard plus: energy chains supplied with cables and hoses installed, cut to length complete with required connectors fitted and electrically tested with optimised connection points / interfaces
  • readychain® premium: one or several energy chains supplied with cables and hoses installed, cut to length complete with required connectors fitted and  electrically tested, supplied on a transport rack for easy transport and installation

They enforce a minimum bend radius for the cables and hoses they protect and offer physical protection around them.  The biggest benefit is that different services can be run side by side together in the same system e.g hydraulics, power cables, data cables, fibre optic cables, fluids etc.  This makes them flexible and versatile, even allowing easy and cheap cable upgrades during the system life. By being passive (i.e. being pulled and pushed by the machine), they need no extra power or drive system and being made from low friction plastics they are therefore corrosion resistant and virtually maintenance-free.

Anywhere and everywhere! From electronics pick-and-place machines, to car washes, from theatre lighting cable management to nuclear decommissioning cranes, from underwater turbines to offshore oil platform skidding. Anywhere where cables and hoses are moved.

There is certain basic data that is required – the diameters, weights and minimum bend radius data for the cables and hoses. Also, the application data, such as machine travel length, speed, acceleration and even the environmental conditions. Service life calculations can be obtained with our online tool here.

At igus®, we have online expert systems to help which offer the available options for these inputs and show respective lifetimes and costs.  Of course, we can also support by phone, email, Livechat and visits to your site by our sales engineer team.

The longest in service now is a travel length of 615m, which has been running trouble-free for 10 years. We are confident we have the products that will reach 800m travels and beyond.

Use the e-chain® calculation tool here.

The number of cables that can be fitted into an energy chain is virtually limitless. Since we offer a full range of internal separation solutions, this can be done safely and to meet almost any layout required. The huge benefit of energy chains is that almost any combination of cables and hoses can be run in the same system, something that cannot be said of alternative technologies like busbars and festoons.

igus® also offers a full range of dynamically rated cables for use in constantly flexing applications (“chainflex®“), which are guaranteed for 10 million movements or 36 months when used as per our guidelines. These can be supplied with or without connectors and pre-fitted into the energy chains. We also offer steel and aluminium guide troughs for longer travels, cable clamping solutions for cable strain-relief and chain interior separation options to ensure a long cable life inside the chain.  We also offer design and project support, onsite services such as supervision and inspection and full turnkey installation.

igus® e-chains®, or energy chains, can cope with fill weights of up to 600 kg/m unsupported.

igus® can carry out offshore surveys on existing chains, and also offer full turnkey installation, or installation supervision, on any of our chains being installed offshore.

igus® e-loop has been designed to enable the operator to replace single cables/hoses in situ, rather than having to replace the full service loops. The e-loop is built up in links, which can be opened to allow the cables to be changed. The dyneema rope which runs through the middle of the e-loop is pre-tensioned to the working load, and so takes the strain of the cables or hoses in use.

Yes! igus® e-loop is supplied with an industry-standard mounting bracket and flange, as per on major OEM top drives, so it is a simple and quick retrofit!

igus® has thousands of energy chains on existing applications offshore including cantilever skids, pipelay towers, gantry cranes, and many more as seen here. Our polymer energy chains are maintenance-free, corrosion resistant, and cost effective vs equivalent steel chains.


igus® can carry out offshore surveys on existing chains/cable management solutions and retrofit them with a new maintenance free igus® energy chain! We offer a complete turnkey engineered solution to suit our customers’ requirements!

Yes, igus® has cables for many industries, including offshore. Our cables with DNV/GL & NEK606 certification can be found and investigated here.

Although igus® does not manufacture hydraulic hoses, the hoses can be sourced and installed within your e-chain® to your requirements.

Our online tool prevents our customers from over filling the e-chains®. We have recommendations for the amount of clearance each service should have when installed within the e-chain® (relative to its OD); 10% for all round and flat cables, 5-10% for pneumatics, 20% for hydraulic hoses and 15-20% for all other media hoses.

  1. ready to install: all readychain® systems are assembled at one of the worldwide igus® factories
  2. lifetime guarantee: all readychain® components undergo extensive checks through quality and functional tests
  3. reduce the number of your suppliers by 75%: lower project planning expenditure and increase efficiency
  4. flexible production plans: state of the art technology to ensure optimised production
  5. safeguarded and short delivery times: our experienced and consistent team guarantees customer satisfaction for high quality at low costs

The limiting factor would be how large the drum is with this chain wrapped around, and the lifting gear required to handle on site, but we are regularly delivering systems for travels of 100m and beyond; these can be split mid length too for a smaller diameter drum.

Almost every industry with moving energy needs use e-chains®: cranes, lifts, theatres, vessels, machine tools, renewable energy systems, electronics, pick-and-place machines, telescopes, agriculture, printing, vehicle sliding doors, and so on – the list is endless.

The maximum is currently 80M. 



10 million cycles, or 10,000km is our guaranteed statement


No, a visual inspection is required every 6-12 months and adjustment of cable tensions (if necessary)

88% faster installation time than standard chain

All igus® energy chain sensors (push/pull monitoring, abrasion, motion, wear measurement, break detection) can be connected to an icom or icom. plus module. The module can transmit the measurement data to an equipment monitor or a computer, where they are displayed individually or in a dashboard.

No, you do not need that. In monitoring their own production, every entrepreneur can decide for himself how much he wants to digitise and utilise the opportunities offered by the Internet of Things. Not everyone is already connected and not everyone wants to network.

Many are concerned about transferring their sensitive company data to external servers, even if high security standards are guaranteed. However, if you use the isense online system from igus, to synchronise and keep data up-to-date, the installed module connects directly to the igus server and sends the data anonymously. The company’s own network remains unaffected at all times.

Companies who still prefer to run their production monitoring offline, i.e. without Internet connection and permanent data update in their own operating system, can certainly do so. They install systems that give a warning in case of defects or simply switch off the machines via normally closed or normally open contacts to prevent major damage and breakdowns.

Such sensors for energy chainscables and bearing technology, such as the sensor for break detection on e-chains EC.B, run autonomously and have a great effect with low installation effort.

No, you do not have to. If your organisation wants to monitor production and switch to predictive maintenance, you do not have to buy extra hardware and set up a new IT infrastructure.

The prerequisite for the most accurate information possible on the trouble-free running time of our components is that the details of use given by the operator are accurate. This includes information on the place of use with weather conditions and temperatures, distances, loads, number of cycles, etc.

In order to digitise processes, more users are integrating machines and systems into the Internet of Things. This benefits, for example, the maintenance. So far, service technicians had to regularly inspect thousands of components on site. A job that is not only time-consuming, but also error-prone. Small defects are easily overlooked. The alternative in the Industry 4.0 era: Networked sensors that continuously transmit the condition of components to a computer. e-chains from igus are ready for the digitisation era. Among other things, the company has developed a break detection system called EC.B. It consists of a polymer wire running inside the e-chain and the online module ICOM. If damaged, the system alerts the user. This then performs a proactive maintenance – before it comes to a system failu

When computers and machines learn from collected data and derive an action from it, one speaks of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The term machine learning is also used in the machine sector.

In private life, one example is that of users of music streaming services. Here an algorithm constantly learns from the behaviour of the user

Networked machines that communicate independently with each other without the influence of humans are described by the term “Internet of Things”.

An illustrative example: The refrigerator, which, via sensors, detects that there is no milk left or a predetermined minimum quantity has been reached, and orders a replenishment at the connected supermarket using a network. In contrast to the normal Internet, in which a user operates an input at the terminal, the systems act independently here, machine-to-machine (M2M).

This requires digitisation as well as the condition that all devices or sensors connected to them have their own IP address by which they can be found and addressed. In the industry, the IoT is becoming increasingly important as it allows machines to independently report wear or impending failure, thereby avoiding serious production downtime.

With CF.Q, CF.D and CF.P, igus has three sensors in the product range that are designed for chainflex cables.

CF.Q is the sensor for the electrical specifications of chainflex cables

  • Belongs to prevention of crash and can be used without an additional module
  • Indicates changes in the electrical properties
  • In the event of a fault, information by means of NO contact or message

yes you can! We have two types, the standard shelf and vertical separator but you can get a modular version that is easily installed.

You can use the zip opener on the e-skin but for longer applications you can have a spacial hand held tool.