An increase in the pace of innovation and emphasis on expanding its digital presence in the face of a worldwide pandemic helped igus increase online sales by 30% in 2020.
Innovations range from telescopic robot tube packages to dry-running ball bearings with 21 times the standard service life to large-scale 3D printing. Engineers and OEMs can find 168 innovations from all departments at igus 2021 Motion Plastics Show. The virtual trade show booth is at https://exhibition.igus.com/
The virtual trade show booth is part of igus’ extraordinary efforts to reach customers in their home offices and other work environments in wake of the business-altering pandemic. As trade shows got canceled and in-person meetings suddenly halted, igus swiftly pivoted and enhanced its online sales, customer engagement, and marketing platforms. igus, whose international headquarters are in Cologne, Germany, runs its North American operations out of Providence, R.I.
“Even in the wake of the global virus, our bold and swift steps helped igus remain in the forefront of innovation and providing unparalleled customer service,’’ said Rick Abbate, Vice President of igus North America. Online sales in the U.S. mirrored that of the global growth, rocketing up more than double during the pandemic. “Our company’s customer-focused culture helped us navigate through a period of uncertainty that impacted businesses the world over,’’ Abbate said.
At the Hannover Messe Digital edition in April, igus unveiled 168 new products and product extensions, more than ever before. Its range of new Tech Up, Cost Down products stretched across a wide range of industries and applications.
After two years of development, the ReBeL, a new robot drive element, allows customers to construct their own robot arms quickly and cost-effectively from a modular kit. The core of the ReBeL is a greatly improved plastic gearbox. An integrated BLDC electric motor with power electronics can be connected to various controls. In addition, a suitable low-cost control system from igus is available free of charge as a download, so that the automation can be simulated in advance.
In the field of “large” industrial robotics, igus launched the TRX energy supply system, a solution that rethinks the subject of robot hose packs. The energy supply system twists, lengthens, and shortens in a spiral, and cables are inserted in the form of a spiral. This enables a weight savings of 83% on the 3rd axis, in less than half the space.
In lubrication-free and maintenance-free bearing technology, engineers at igus achieved a breakthrough in service life. In the application cases of low loads and high speeds, this was increased by a factor of 21.
Expanding Online Capabilities
A significant amount of financial and intellectual capital went into online shops and online tools. All website shopping outlets were renewed and made more informative for customers. New online tools for the configuration and calculation of gears, rollers, linear modules, and stepper motors are accessible on the internet free of charge and without registration.
In May 2020, igus introduced a virtual trade-booth stand that has been located in an exhibition hall in Cologne Porz-Lind. It was recognized with the iF Design Award.
“We are in our second year without trade shows,” igus CEO Frank Blase said. “This time we can start the presentation of our new products at full digital speed.”
The new trade show stand has been optimized based on experience gained in virtual customer consultation and tours last year. Solutions for various industries can be seen in separate areas at the stand, which established the industry standard for virtual trade show booth displays.
The orange trade show stand has hosted 55,000 visitors worldwide. Another 16,000 visitors have also taken advantage of a digital visit with igus specialists.
“We would normally have been represented at 222 trade shows and conventions last year, but we only made a total of 26,” Blase said. “So we are very happy that the stand has become a fixed part of daily communication with customers.”
Plastic becomes a sustainable resource
While innovating products and expanding digital capacities, igus also continued to develop products that have less impact on the environment during use, are produced in a CO2 neutral manner, and recycled afterward. A new building currently under construction will be climate neutral from the outset, and this will apply to the entire igus factory by 2025.
To further reduce emissions, igus is investing in modern technologies. For example, injection molding machines that save up to 40 percent energy and are barely audible have been purchased in large numbers.
In addition to mechanical recycling of energy chains, igus also relies on new types of chemical recycling. The company increased its investment in Mura Technology to €5 million. Mura’s HydroPRS technology converts plastic waste back into oil. Investments increased by 29% overall in 2020.
A Year of Change
The year saw an extreme change for igus in many areas. For instance, the early expansion of machine and raw material warehouse capacities in the third quarter of 2020 enables fast delivery times in the rapid recovery phase of the current engineering climate.
At the same time, igus expanded its stock at every location in the world. In addition to the USA with 23,000 individual parts and Europe with 88,000, 21,000 parts are now available in China in 24 to 48 hours and are assembled by igus in millions of models. The offer of easy online configuration and ordering together with the short delivery time was welcomed by many customers.
While sales fell 4.8% for the company overall, aggressive innovation and expanded online options for purchasing, testing, and configuring place the company in a positive marketplace position in the post-pandemic business environment.
“Politics, technology, mobility, entertainment, climate, and health – the world is changing rapidly at the moment,’’ Blase said. “We want to be active shapers. So I am proud of the igus colleagues for how they have applied themselves, changed, and improved during these times.”