Manual Handling Tugs Help Automate Production Line At Construction Equipment Manufacturer
Two words that immediately spring to mind in the manufacture of construction equipment are size and weight. These two factors also present the biggest challenges when it comes to automating assembly lines.
At one leading construction vehicle manufacturer, a multi-stage production line was given mobility by using special bogeys on rails, which started at one end of the plant with a bare chassis and left at the other end with a completed vehicle. At each stage of the process, work was carried out on the assembly before being readied to move on to the next stage. At the sound of a buzzer, operators literally manhandled the bogies along the rails to the next stage.
MasterMover’s solution was to connect the bogies to each other using struts and then move the entire assembly line – all 85,000kg of it – as one by pushing it using an Master Pusher MP90. In operation, depending on the takt time of the line, an operator removes a key from a control panel, which immediately triggers warning lights and buzzers. Then the key is used to operate the MP90 and the line is shunted along one stage, before the key is replaced and production continues.
Although perhaps not as elegant as a vehicle production system, this solution provides a commensurate level of automation – but at a fraction of the cost; especially when one considers the load capacity that would need to be built into an automated system. As well as the increased control and automation, the company’s employees also find it much easier as there is no longer an element of manual handling, which is particularly important at the end of the lines when the vehicles are at their heaviest.