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igus® S.L.U.

Ctra. Llobatona, 6

Poligono Noi del Sucre

08840 Viladecans Barcelona

+34 93 647 39 50
+34 93 647 39 51

Energy chains for work portals in large ship production

With the use of high technology, shipbuilding in Germany is fit for the future. This is exemplified by Meyer Werft GmbH in Papenburg. Consistent high-volume production in steel structural work with defined planning and production processes, as well as the use of the latest lasers and automation technologies, make the shipyard a model company. Modern plastic energy supply systems from igus are used for the supply of energy and media to a gigantic crane system with a total of 8 crane bridges. They provide the necessary flexibility and freedom of movement when manufacturing high-precision steel components.


  • What was needed: Energy supply system E4/4 with aluminium guide troughs, chainflex control and motor cables
  • Requirements: Harsh environmental conditions (flying sparks, dust and dirt), high flexibility and safety of cables and chain
  • Industry: Shipbuilding, shipyard
  • Success for the customer: High flexibility and security of the media supply for the entire system, individual solution, targeted advice, quick installation
Meyer Shipyard Among other things, the cruise ship "AIDAblu" is being built at the Meyer Werft GmbH in Papenburg. 8,000 people were involved. 20,100 tonnes of steel were processed, 1,700 kilometres of cable were laid.


At the compact shipyard in Papenburg, where mainly luxury liners and cruise ships of the high-end class are built, a gigantic crane system is used over a length range of almost 200 metres.  This system consists of eight individual cranes connected in series, each of which can travel a section of the longitudinal travel of approx. 75 m. Each crane bridge is equipped with six pivoting arms that provide the welding technology at the manual workstations.  At each of these work portals, welding units are available, which are equipped with welding wire feed, media supply with the respective welding gases as well as compressed air and exhaust.
In order to ensure the constant supply of these media, cables and the energy chain must be able to withstand the particularly harsh environmental conditions in steel construction: Welding and grinding, the energy supply systems are exposed to dust and dirt, and often flying sparks. In addition, despite the flexibility and thus constant movement of the work portals, the safety of the hoses with their sensitive media had to be guaranteed.


Robust energy supply systems of the E4/4 system are used on the longitudinal and transverse axes of the 'Megacrane' to supply media to the flame-cutting and welding systems. These were delivered with easy-to-assemble aluminium troughs for safe guidance of the energy chains on long travels.  "Here the requirement was that the various hoses should be given a certain amount of freedom of movement. Because they are subject to pressure and can change. They become shorter or stretch out," explains Dirk Wobken. "Nevertheless, they must be positioned as accurately as possible and may only be bent or rolled within certain bend radii defined by the energy chain. " Thanks to the special interior separation elements of the "E4/4" chains, the hoses are also laid cleanly. They can move freely at any time in the longitudinal direction and do not exert any pulling force on the energy chain system in the radius. The travels of the longitudinal axis are 75 m. In order to implement an arrangement of the work gantries on eight overlapping travels, the energy chains run partly in parallel, partly in opposite directions on two adjacent tracks in the aluminium troughs. Heinrich Kampen, CEO of Siempelkamp Krantechnik GmbH: "An extremely compact arrangement of the eight energy supply systems was important here in order to ensure that all eight welding gantries were supplied with power. “

"The entire energy chain system has a very compact design, nothing is hanging in the field of view or vision. "Added to this is very high stability and quiet operation. "
Carsten Jeschke, Technical Sales Consultant at igus

Highest flexibility through "chainflex" special cables

On the transverse axis, the energy chain systems are also equipped with highly flexurally resistant chainflex special cables from igus, which serve to transmit power and control signals. In detail, these are special control and motor cables for energy chains, which achieve a long service life in dynamic continuous operation. Because in steel construction things are particularly rough. Both the plastic energy chains and the cables are exposed to demanding external conditions: there is welding and grinding, the energy supply systems are exposed to dust and dirt, and there are often flying sparks as well.
In addition to the harsh ambient conditions and the possibility of integrating the system into the crane structure in a very space-saving way, there was another reason to rely on an energy chain solution early on: the radius limitation of the hoses with their sensitive media defined by the chain. In addition, this system has already proven itself for many years in similarly demanding applications at Meyer Shipyard. "This is an ideal solution for the high demands prevailing here," confirms Heinrich Kampen of Siempelkamp Krantechnik.
energy chain A total of eight energy chains move both in parallel and in opposite directions without interfering with each other. The compact arrangement allows the system to almost disappear in the crane girder.
Shipyard hall View into the steel construction hall. You can see one of the eight work portals supplied by Siempelkamp Krantechnik.
Longitudinal axis, feeding point The various hoses with their sensitive media should be given some room to move. This is because they are pressurised and can shorten or stretch.

Consulting Intensive on-site consultation and planning ensured that the project was completed on schedule.

Consulting and assembly by igus

Energy chain expert igus has already provided intensive consultation in advance at the Meyer shipyard and also at Siempelkamp Krantechnik. The energy chains with the "chainflex" special cables and the aluminium guide troughs were exactly matched to the requirements on site. The subsequent installation of the energy chain system at a fixed price was an additional service provided by igus. "We had a very tight time window for the installation," reports Dirk Wobken.  "Since we work with flammable gases, the work gantries had to be approved for gas, so that only two weeks were available for the installation of the energy chain systems on the eight gantries. But everything went smoothly. “


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