Energy chains for high temperatures

Tough high-temperature energy tube for a gantry milling machine

Whether original equipping or retrofitting: this energy tube will make its way in machining. The material used makes it possible for even swarf up to a temperature of 850°C to bounce off without leaving a trace. A gantry milling machine at a manufacturer of switches has been retrofitted with this energy tube. Despite the enormous amount of chips and the simultaneous high temperature, it has been running smoothly since then. Plant downtimes are a thing of the past.


  • What was needed: high-temperature energy tube from the E4 system made of the 'igumid HT' material
  • Requirements: sharp swarf of all sizes hits system components at more than 600 °C
  • Industry: switch manufacture, infrastructure
  • Success for the customer: A completely new material was presented to the customer. It withstands continuously high loads and temperatures of up to 850°C. The e-tube is easily accessible and minimises maintenance and machine downtimes. Installation did not cost much because the existing guide trough was retained.
energy chain Fully enclosed energy tube on a gantry milling machine for switch production.


The French company Vossloh Cogifer has specialised in the field of fixed installations for rail networks of all kinds for over 100 years.  As one of the market leaders, the plant manufacturer plans, designs and manufactures customised switches and crossings worldwide for all loads, profiles and track gauges.  The Trier site primarily manufactures tram switches, with a total of between 300 and 400 switches being produced each year.
All switches are manufactured in two-shift operation with modern machinery. In addition to sawing and drilling equipment, milling benches, this also includes a CNC-controlled gantry milling machine, which has been in use since 2002. In order to protect the cables from the hot swarf in the long term, one has to rely on an enclosed system, an energy tube. Due to the extreme requirements on site, however, the old energy supply system was usually worn out after a maximum of nine months, so the manufacturer was called in and together they looked for an alternative solution. Various approaches, such as a metal energy supply system, were considered and then rejected.
Milling the switches not only produces an extremely high number of swarf of all sizes, but they are also very sharp-edged. "Some of them come flying at us as like hot needles. 600°C and more are not uncommon," Matthias Krames summarises the conditions on site. The swarf used to leave burn and melt marks in the plastic, and the lids of the energy supply system also opened at certain points due to the enormous load. Swarf penetrated little by little, so that it became critical for the inserted cables. As a result, the system kept coming to a standstill. In addition, the plant manufacturer was looking for a cost-effective solution that would also be sustainable in the long term.


The existing energy tube was replaced by a high-temperature energy tube from igus . The use of these high-temperature energy tubes significantly increases machine service life, especially during machining. This is where the enclosed systems basically show their strength, as they reliably protect the cables from dirt, moisture or heat.  At that time, igus had presented ′igumid HT′ as a material in which hot swarf bounces off the energy supply system without leaving a trace, even in temperatures of up to 850°C.  And when inspected after the first few weeks, no swarf stuck to the housing or penetrated, and there were no markings on the plastic. "We are very satisfied with this solution," confirms Matthias Krames, Maintenance Manager at Vossloh Laeis. "The machine has been running without any problems since the replacement. The exchange was worthwhile for us. "
With a chain length of 61 chain links, a travel of up to 9 m and a maximum table speed of 10 m/min, the E4 system with normal pendulum mounting brackets is used due to the large unsupported length. It is complemented by the integrated strain relief. All the components mentioned have a positive effect on the stability and durability of the entire energy supply system.  The fact that energy tubes are basically openable from both sides was extremely practical, especially during installation. The existing intact cables could be inserted quickly, and the existing guide trough was also used, so that the replacement was really cost-effective. As the cables remain accessible at all times after they have been inserted into the tube, maintenance and machine downtimes are reduced to a minimum.
"We are confident that this energy tube will meet our requirements in the long run. In any case, the experiences of the first weeks and months make us feel very positive," Matthias Krames concludes.

"We are very satisfied with this solution. The machine has been running without any problems since the replacement. [...] We are confident that this energy tube will meet our requirements in the long run."
Matthias Krames, Maintenance Manager at Vossloh Laeis
E4 energy tube The E4 system was chosen because of the large unsupported length.
Energy tube The enclosed energy tube does not mind the swarf accumulation at all. They leave no traces of burning or melting.
Energy tube in guide trough The existing guide trough could be used again.
Energy tube The replacement of the energy tube went off without a hitch.