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Energy chains in order picking systems

In these order picking systems, harnessed e-chains ensure 20,000 movements a day

Functionally reliable, durable, quiet, wear-resistant, space-saving: these are the requirements for energy chains used in the automatic medicine picking systems of the company Mach4 Automatisierungstechnik GmbH. Whether in a pharmacy, hospital or nursing home - the modular systems for quick storage and retrieval can be adapted to almost any space conditions on site. Here, fully harnessed readychain energy supply systems ensure the required long-term operational reliability.


  • What was needed: E2/000 series energy chains and servo, bus, control and pneumatic cables from the chainflex product range, supplied as fully harnessed readychain systems
  • Requirements: durable, functionally reliable, low-abrasion, space-saving, quiet energy supply
  • Industry: mechanical engineering
  • Success for the customer: installation time is reduced and necessary machine adaptations can be carried out easily

Medicine handling


At the moment, there are almost 21,000 chemists in Germany. Demographic change is also making itself noticeable here. Their number is expected to level off at around 17,000 to 18,000 in the next few years. An individual chemist's has to be able to do more in the space it has available. In addition, the population is getting older. In this environment, automation plays an important role as layout and storage spaces vary considerably. Medication handling systems must be compact on the one hand, and modular on the other, to allow for easy expansion and safe supply.
This also applies to the customised order picking systems from Mach4 Automatisierungstechnik GmbH. The supplier in the field of medication logistics needed a solution for the energy supply of its systems, where speeds of up to 4m/s and acceleration of up to 2.5m/s can occur with a travel of up to2 17m. The travel speeds and accelerations are combined with a high continuous load. In a classic chemist's shop, the daily storage and retrieval operations amount to around 300; in hospitals, this can increase to up to 20,000 trips. Storage capacities in individual systems are therefore between 9,000 and 60,000 packages. Depending on the composition of the individual systems, between 150 and 1,200 packages can be delivered and between 300 and 8,700 retrieved per hour.


From day one, high-performance energy supply systems and cables from our energy chain range are used in the Mach4 systems. Specifically, e-chains from the E2/000 series are used, which are hinged on the inside and outside and are characterised by easy and versatile assembly.
Usually, between two and five fully harnessed energy chain "readychains", are used, which combine robustness and abrasion resistance and operate quietly with low vibration. Moreover, they need little installation space due to the small bend radii. This is very important in order to be able to use the space available in a medicine storage space most effectively. Because of the very small chain link pitch and the resulting reduced polygon effect, there is scarcely any vibration or shocks. As a result, the customers in the chemist's shops hardly notice anything about the picking processes that deliver the medicine as if by magic.
They contribute to the good technical data of the systems and at the same time minimise the installation effort.
But the cables themselves are also provided by us. At Mach4 , for example, functionally reliable servo, bus, control and pneumatic cables from the chainflex range ensure the required performance data for fast picking of the medication packaging.

Mach4 picking system

Calculated online and delivered in 24 hours

The component supplier and the medium-sized mechanical engineering company work closely together. A few years ago, an order-picking system was designed that can drive 90° around the corner. "The solution was found quickly", the CEO looks back. "While the chain is on the floor in the standard machines, it stands on the cam-controlled automatic machines and ensures a reliable energy supply to the various control and drive units." In addition, the delivery capability is right. "The delivery of a system has never been delayed because of bottlenecks", confirms Malajka. This aspect is very important to igus, so all products including service life can be calculated and ordered online and delivered from 24 hours.

Overview of ready-to-install energy chain systems

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