Now in South Korea!

We’ve arrived in South Korea! I’m hoping our tour of the country continues as smoothly as its started off.  It was a new experience to have the iglide car ready for me to jump in and drive as soon as I arrive – No 2 days spent in the customs office, and no struggle for a driving permit. igus Korea set up a shaman ceremony for the car when we first arrived – complete with a pig’s head. That must have worked to protect us against bad luck!

Since we started our tour, we’ve driven more than 6,200 miles across roads, deserts, through mountains and along the ocean shore. Our iglide car is still running perfectly on the 56 plastic bearings we’ve installed – and we’ve got another 1,200 miles planned through Korea over the next few weeks.

Now in South Korea!

We took off from the igus branch in Incheon the day after I had arrived, and we headed off towards Asan.  After being in crowded China, I’d say that Asan, with its 290,000 citizens is a nice little village. We made a stop at one of our customers, Leepack Co. Ltd.

Leepack is the leading Korean manufacturer for intermittent rotary packaging systems. The company’s product portfolio ranges from filling units and vacuum packing systems to rotary fill-and-seal machines. Because their machines are dealing with food, they need products that are corrosion free. igus products have been able to help Leepack in many ways besides corrosion resistance. Mr Lee, the company’s Vice President, had this to say about what he likes about igus products:

https://youtu.be/0SCdkj86oAc

He also talked about how long his company has been relying on igus solutions:

https://youtu.be/OYgl42o6-xA

In Asan, I went out to dinner with some of the Korean igus team, and I had the chance to enjoy a real Korean barbeque. I loved it! Basically, it is a table filled with meats, vegetables, and fish, with a grill in the center to cook whatever you choose. One of my favorite new dishes is kimchi. It’s a traditional Korean side dish of cabbage soaked in brine and spices. You can eat it with everything – personally, I love it on grilled meat!

As for the tour, we will be meeting up with more South Korean customers and exploring the country over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

Sascha

Re-introducing the ‘iglide on tour’ car!

Hi everyone! We’ve all been enjoying the exciting journey of our iglide car across India, China, and now traveling onto South Korea. We’ve enjoyed seeing exotic landscapes, interesting customers, and the fun incidents that happen with any road trip, but what about our little orange car?

If you haven’t heard, we at igus are celebrating the 30th anniversary of our iglide self-lubricating plastic bearings. Seeing as this anniversary ties in perfectly with igus’ 50th birthday, we decide to celebrate in style. Our ‘iglide on tour’ car was stripped down entirely, then reassembled before hitting the road, specially retrofit with 56 plastic iglide bearing components to be put to the ultimate test – 60,000 miles in 9 months around the globe.

The bearings our team installed into the car are working in applications from the windshield wipers and window regulators, to the throttle valve and gear shift. From now on, we will continue to follow Sascha and the iglide car on their travels, but also explore more about what those 56 iglide bearings are doing, and why they’re a great solution for cars, trucks, and tons of other applications.

Lets’s take a look at the first place we’re using iglide inside:

Before sending an orange customized car on a 60,000 mile world tour, igus replaced 56 of the car’s standard parts with iglide plastic bearings, including one bearing in the throttle valve.

The throttle takes the place of a carburetor on newer vehicles, and works by directly regulating the amount of air able to enter the engine, indirectly controlling the engine’s charge (the combination of fuel and air).

In the throttle valve, a combination aluminum/plastic bearing from an unknown manufacturer was stripped out, and retrofit with a standard iglide X6 bushing. The X6 material is extraordinarily resistant against high temperatures, and has a lifetime 6 times longer than its predecessor, iglide T500, in high temperature applications. The X6 bearing is able to withstand the long-term application temperatures that a bearing would experience inside the throttle valve. The material is resistant to temperatures of up to 482ºF, and short term application temperatures of 599º are possible. Very low temperature applications are also possible with X6, as low as -148º – much lower than any car would typically encounter. The iglide X6 material also has up to 50% better press-fit with higher temperatures, meaning that it is resistant to relaxation up to 329ºF. At this point, the bearing should be axially secured, whereas iglide T500 must be secured at 275ºF. All plastics will relax once they reach a certain temperature, meaning they will shrink down to the size of the space they are pressed into.

The iglide X6 material is also resistant against a number of caustic materials, most importantly the gasoline and diesel fuels that the throttle comes into constant contact with, and it also possesses a very low moisture absorption rate to minimize the risk of the bearing swelling and eliminating necessary clearance. X6, like all iglide materials, has very low wear and friction characteristics, and is self-lubricating and maintenance-free thanks to the materials inclusion of tiny particles of solid lubricant that coat the shaft as friction occurs.

In this particular application, the bearing in the throttle valve moves in an oscillating fashion against the partner pin which is made from steel. The function of the bearing is to provide the rotational movement of the throttle valve mechanism. The iglide X6 material, like all iglide bearing materials, has been extensively tested in a variety of real-life application settings. The results from these tests have been compiled into an extensive database, which was used to create a lifetime prediction calculator for iglide bearings.

Celebrating 30 years of iglide with a tour around the world

To celebrate 30 years of their iglide plastic bearings, igus is sending its little car on a big trip around the world. Last year, 200 million iglide bearings were installed in cars and trucks, and now igus is truly putting them to the test. The iglide car has been retrofit with 56 iglide bearings in areas including the alternator, gear shift, window regulators, convertible top, pedals, and more.

Starting in India, the car will be shipped across oceans, then drive across countries, stopping along the way at igus customers, subsidiaries, partners, and trade shows, connecting igus worldwide. On July 20th, the car will arrive in the US via Anchorage, Alaska, where it will begin its journey from ocean to ocean on a ten-week North American tour before continuing on to Europe. The tour ends in Germany at the Hannover K Trade Fair, where the car will be stripped down to see how the bearings fared their worldwide journey.

For more information, visit www.igus.com/iglideontour.

Jinan-Tai’an to Beijing (375 miles)

After leaving Jinan, we traveled to Tai’an to visit a customer specializing in labeling machines. Mr. Ji, who founded the company about 15 years ago, is one of our newer customers.

Mr. Ji was searching for ways to improve the quality of his machines, as he is trying to sell more abroad. One main disadvantage of his machines before finding igus was that they had to be lubricated regularly. One day, he decided to substitute some of the metal bearings he was using with our iglide J bearings.

As all our bearings are self-lubricating, he was easily able to end his lubrication and maintenance problems! While we were speaking, he mentioned that he was surprised with the long lifetime of our products. He also said that there was an unexpected side effect of switching to iglide, with the special plastic bearings he was able to reduce the noise of his machines.

igus was truly able to help Mr. Ji improve the quality of his machines. Currently he is looking into swapping out more metal bearings with iglide.

Tai’an is quite well known because of a nearby mountain that is said to be sacred.

The Tai Shan Mountain is one of the 5 sacred mountains of Daoismus. At just under 5100 feet, it is not an extraordinarily high mountain, but in ancient China it was considered to be the tallest in the world. Anyways, the mountain has been a place of worship for more than 3000 years, and is therefore quite famous. What does the most famous mountain in the most crowded country get? Lots of visitors.

There are two ways you can climb the mountain: by stairs, or by lift. Of course, taking the stairs (there are more than 6000!) would have taken a long time, and as we only had a half day to explore, we decided on the lift. Since I wasn’t able to take the car up the mountain, I took the dry-tech bearings box with me instead!

On the mountain itself, besides a lot of tourists, you get a stunning view and come across a nice temple.

 

One thing I have really become fond of on my trip so far is the food.  Traditional Chinese food is light, tasty, and diverse. They eat lots of vegetables, chicken, and soups, but also some stranger things. For me, to adapt to new cultures and countires means to break some of my regular habits. While there was one dish I wasn’t willing to try, I did try some insects. In the Northern part of Chine, people eat them quite a lot. I’m not sure what I ate exactly, but it wasn’t bad. I was surprised at how crispy they were – and tasted like potato chips! I think I’d still prefer some real potato chips when watching a movie, but the insects weren’t too bad.

Food really seems to be something that customer visits pivot on in China. Most companies have their own on-site restaurant, and usually after spending some time with a customer, they’d invite us for lunch. I don’t know why, but every customer offers me a beer. Maybe they just think Germans are drinking beer all the time! J

That’s all from me today, I’ll keep you posted.

Sascha

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles)

Currently, we are in Bangalore, where the igus India offices are located. We drove straight through from Pune to Bangalore, which took us a total of 17 hours, our longest leg of the trip so far

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles)

Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka, and is the third largest city in the country, after New Delhi and Mumbai. Although its further South than Pune, it’s a little cooler here in Bangalore (not cool enough that I didn’t get a sunburn!). Since we arrived later than planned at our hotel on a Friday, we kept things slow with our customer visits. One of those we visited was Dynaspede.

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Dynaspede manufactures electro-mechanical components, as well as custom machines. Just tell them what kind of machine you need, and they can build it for you. We had the opportunity to get an inside look at one of their machines, an engine tester for a major Indian Auto manufacturer.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).4

The machine needs to be able to fix, and therefore move, the engine. For this, the engine is mounted on four shafts embedded in beadings. At this time, Dynaspede regularly had problems with scoring on the shafts. Scoring is surface damage produced by the movement of the shaft of the bearing. To reduce the problem, the shaft had to be regularly lubricated and even hardened.

In order to eliminate these inconveniences, Dynaspede changed their traditional bearings for a DryLin R-FJUM 001-30 flange bearing, which, like all our products, is self-lubricating and maintenance –free, resolving the scoring problem for the engine test machine.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).5 Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).6

Inside the testing station, there is a shaft to put on the gear-shifter of the engine. The shaft is then able to shift the engines gears throughout the test. Through this, they are able to measure the engine’s performance. The shaft is guided by iglide J, which has a low wear and a low friction coefficient.

We could also see our Energy Chain on the machine, they are used to guide and protect the machine’s moving cables; most of Dynaspede’s machines are equipped with them.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).7

The last few days have been all about driving and visiting customers. We made it more than 600 miles and have visited about 25-30 our our awesome customers. Yesterday, I checked our mileage gauge for the whole trip – 2485 miles!! –  and another 400 or so tomorrow as we travel on to Chennai, the automobile hub of India.

Today I have no exciting trips through the jungle or across the desert. Just highways that seemed to be in pretty good shape. I can’t even tell you about Bangalore, I haven’t had time to explore it – it seems to be a very nice, modern city as far as I can tell, however.

Next time I’ll tell you more about our travels. We’ll have some time to explore Chennai a bit and show you some of the highlights.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).8

Daman to Bombay To Pune

Traveling between customers, from the desert near Pushkar to the seashore at Daman, we’ve already made it more than 1,000 miles north to south. I’m seeing that every 60 miles or so we travel further south, the food changes. Actually, I usually don’t know what I’m eating these days, to be honest. I don’t mind as long as I can see my colleagues are willing to eat it, and as long as its tasty – and it always is! There is such a huge variety in food that I’m wasting something new each day.

Along with the food, the language also changes every few hundred miles. Its’ not just the accents – my colleagues from Delhi aren’t able to understand the locals a little more than a hundred miles away. The climate and surroundings are changing as well – driving South we saw the desert slowly turn green, with palm trees sprouting up more and more the further we traveled; everything around us became a green, tropical environment.

Daman to Bombay To Pune Daman to Bombay To Pune.2

Right now, I’m on the way to a customer visit in Pune. Pune is the automotive hub of India, as well as one of the main educational areas. The University of Pune alone has 811 colleges across India – 811(!!), at least according to the Times of India. If you’d rather get your information from Wikipedia, we’re talking almost 500,000 students. Comparatively speaking, Germany as a whole had 2,500,000 students in 2012/13. In particular, Pune is renowned for engineering, which is working hand in hand with the major automobile manufacturers in the area like Mercedes, Tata, Volkswagen, and more. Mercedes, if you’re reading this, I think you should manufacture and sell our car! So many people have asked us about the price and told us they’d like to buy it that I’m thinking we’re kind of trendsetters and soon everyone will have a small orange car!

Ok, now only the last few days. On our Ahmedabad route we traveled to our customer PWS.  The company has been around for 100 years, and is a mid-size company, with about 100 employees, but they lead the Indian market in the manufacturing of filling machines for things like juice and packaged food. We found them outside the city a ways, the factory and office together in a very old building next to a fancy five-star wellness resort. At first glance you’d never expect a high tech company be hiding there.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.3 Daman to Bombay To Pune.4

As the company is working in the food industry, they require products that are corrosion-free to operate safely. Of course, in this industry, machines need to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, requiring a need for chemical resistance as well.

igus supplied PWS with a lubrication free, corrosion free plastic liner in a stainless steel housing that they use for linear movements. Our plastic liner has fulfilled PWS’s requirements of being corrosion free and resistant to chemicals, and additionally, they’re easy to assemble, and maintenance-free. The liners enable the filling machines to have a smooth up-and-down motion for putting lids on containers.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.5

After our customer visit, we jumped on the highway and headed for Daman. It total, the journey was only about 250 miles, but it took AGES. We were stuck in a traffic jam, so we were very late to arrive at the coast. For me, this was a big step on our tour. This was an informal reminder that we’ve made it to the half-way point in our trip through India – the first leg of the world tour.

The next day was Sunday, which means no customer visits. I wanted to spend the day getting some nice photos of the iglide car, so we went to the beach and split up to find a good spot to shoot.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.6

When I got back to the group, it was a strange scene. One of the backup drivers had the glorious idea to park his vehicle (a very big one, let me mention), not on the street, but ON THE SAND. How do you get a multi-ton car out of the sand? Well, only with a group effort.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.7

Eventually, after several tries, we got it free. We were able to get the car back on the road to continue the journey, next stop Bombay!

The trip to Bombay was awesome. The whole journey was through stunning landscapes. A modern highway leads you through a mix of desert and jungle, with mountains on one side and traditional villages on the other. Just amazing.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.8

I was bummed we didn’t have more time in Bombay. We arrived late at night, and had to leave for Pune the following day, so I had no time to explore the city, which we all know from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. The glance I got, the city seemed to be a booming metropolis, with very modern looking buildings and skyscrapers, construction on every corner. I learned after we left that Bombay is the financial hub of India.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.9 Daman to Bombay To Pune.10

I’m in Pune now as I write this. Tomorrow we’re driving back to Bangalore (500 miles), which will wind down our Indian tour. From there, the just have a few more visits.

As usual, I’ll keep you up to date.

Sascha

At the New Delhi Auto Expo!

This week, we’ve been preparing for the New Delhi Auto Expo, which kicked off today. It’s the last big event for our little car before leaving the city on our country-wide tour of India.

Don’t worry; I won’t bore you with our work preparing for the expo!

After our work preparing for the Auto Expo, we had some time to visit a customer, JCB in Faridabad – our car’s first customer!! JCB, a leading manufacturer of construction equipment, uses iglide® bearings in the steering mechanisms and loaders of their vehicles. The igus team was excited to show JCB 2 new applications for iglide® in their vehicles: in the door hinges and the gear-shifter. Between this news, and introducing our iglide® car and talking about the tour, we ran out of time, and missed our tour of the factory! Not to worry, there are plenty more customer visits to follow, and our Indian Colleagues will revisit JCB later.

 

To get to our visit, we had to travel about an hour outside New Delhi, to one of the adjacent cities. I know that Delhi has been investing heavily on the city’s infrastructure, but the metro system hasn’t made it out to the suburbs yet. A taxi driver told me at the beginning of my trip that 3,000 cars are registered in New Delhi every day. I’m not sure if this is totally true, but being on the streets you can definitely see the swarm of cars. There’s a boom everywhere, really. For example, in Connaugt Place, an area of the city which was built by the British during the colonial period, is filled with fast food chains, western shops, and restaurants to satisfy the ever-growing middle class.

Before I forget, let me tell you about last weekend.

While I’m not a big dance fan, I really enjoyed by Saturday night! We went to a traditional Khatak dance performance. Khatak is one of 8 traditional forms of Indian dance. I’m told that the performance usually tends to progress from slow to fast, ending dramatically.

I have to say, if you are interested in dance (or even if you aren’t!) I highly recommend one of these shows, should you get the chance to attend. Most of the performances are free, as they are often performed in subsidized government theaters.  Check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuBd67p2UJQ for a quick look!

Sunday I went out for another little discovery of New Delhi. I have already talked about the contrasts in this city. I’ve had the same experience, but on a different level. In the morning, I was facing overwhelming city life in town, yet by noon, I was in another world. If you are on a visit to Dehli, please be sure to visit one of the parks. They are like calm, green oases in the middle of a bustling city. They even have monkeys!! Actually, there are monkeys in the city, too.  The people here are used to them like we might be used to pigeons or cats. I’m still not over the novelty; my colleagues laugh every time I point one out and get excited. I have learned, though, that if you get face to face with a monkey, hide your camera and other belongings! Apparently the monkeys are aggressive, that or they really don’t like having their picture taken.

I’ve realized that outside of the city, people are even more interested in the car than when we are in Delhi. A few people even stopped their cars to shoot photos or talk to us for a bit. If we’re already getting this much attention and we’re in the suburban areas, what can we expect in rural India??

 

I’m curious to find out the answer. We are a week into the month long stay in India now. Next, we leave the metropolitan area and head South towards Jaipur.

Until Next Time,

Sascha

Officially on the road!

So, in my last post I promised I’d tell you the connection between our car and a flock of sheep, let’s start there for today.

The 2 days we spent struggling to get the car through customs were exhausting, just sitting around the airport and customs area, waiting for time to go by. At one point, we were sitting at the airport café next to the cargo terminal, enjoying a cup of tea with the customs officer, when I heard a ‘baaah’ over the rustling of my papers. First one, then another, then my surprise to see a flock of sheep passing by the windows of an international airport! Once more, New Delhi has shown me its incredible diversity. This is the word I’ll use to describe the city best- diverse! Once getting adjusted to the chaos of the New Delhi, it’s just amazing to see people from so many different backgrounds living together in peace.

After 2 full days of the waiting marathon, we finally got our car! You can see in the picture below how happy and relieved we were to finally have it out of customs, and of course, we couldn’t help ourselves but to take a little joyride around the city to celebrate. As we still had the pre conference and Auto Expo ahead, we were kind of careful with our driving, we didn’t want to nick any of that shiny orange exterior! Still, it was interesting to see hoe much attention the car is getting. There are no cars like this on the Indian market, making it a real stand-out on the streets.  At a red light, a taxi driver pulled up close to ask about the car through the window. We had several questions from passersby as we parked, and a group of children were pulled away from their game of cricket as we drove by!

The first full day we had the car free, I would have liked to see Old Delhi, but both of my Indian colleagues were against it, keeping in mind the press events ahead. (After that, we’ll really see what the car can do!) After seeing Old Delhi for myself, I changed my mind and saw why the guys wouldn’t want to bring the iglide car there. I’ve never had and experience like it- so many things to see, hear, smell, taste – all at the same time! Small streets encircle pretty, tucked away mosques and temples, a variety of scents wafted past us through the air, and the continued honking from everyone on the street; these streets are so full of life!

One thing I can really recommend if you visit Old (or New) Delhi is to grab a cup of tea and just people-watch for a while!

I won’t tell you again about the press conference, as I already mentioned it in my last blog post, Just a note though, I want to mention the volunteer network called “Make a Difference” that we are donating to, one Euro for each kilometer we drive in India. The organization helps children living in street shelters and orphanages,  and focus on education. They work on equality of opportunity,  It’s really great to combine our tour through India with supporting a great charity that does such great work. Visit http://makeadiff.in/uat/ to learn more about “Make a Difference”!

Well, there is so much more that I could write about.  I really feel like I could already write a book, and the trip has barely started! We are planning about  2500 miles (4000 km) through India, and thinking about the passing desserts, coastal roads, natural reserves, and exciting cities he have yet  to see, I think it might be more of a book series…

Anyways, before it comes to that, I’ll end for today.  Talk to you again soon.

-Sascha

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