This case study focuses on the material handling and automation needs of a global leader in the manufacturing of high-quality land and offshore oil and gas drilling equipment. Within their factory they were using CNC equipment to process large and extraordinarily heavy workpieces. Since they were expanding and moving to a new location, they wanted to improve workflow while reducing or eliminating the need for overhead cranes and forklifts. They invited Electro Kinetic Technologies to visit their facility, review the proposed new layout and offer recommendations to facilitate better workplace safety and improve productivity.
In a machining area, the customer needed to feed large drive collars, measuring up to 30 feet long and weighing up to 7,000 lbs., into a CNC machine. Operators had to move the drive collars onto a platform using an overhead crane, then manually level them with the CNC machine before pushing the collars into place. These drive collars needed to be positioned within 1/64th of an inch of the target, which eliminated the use of a hydraulic scissor lift cart as a solution because this technology could not provide the required level of vertical resolution. In collaboration with the customer, a “wish list” of changes was developed that included a staging area where the drive collars could be loaded onto a cart, moved, and leveled without operators having to touch the collars. If all wishes could be met, the proposed solution would streamline the operation while preventing accidents and collisions that could occur during overhead crane operation and manual adjustment.
The second area of focus dealt with the movement of another set of drive collars around the customer’s facility. These drive collars were a bit smaller and weighed up to 5,000 pounds. The customer also wanted to prevent operators from moving more than one drive collar at a time.
For the machining center, Electro Kinetic Technologies custom designed a total of 20 ergonomic, wirelessly controlled motorized transfer carts that could safely and efficiently transport the 7,000 lb. drive collars from the staging area to the CNC equipment. In order to safely move the drive collars up to an exact work height, each motorized cart was outfitted with a custom jackscrew lift.
Each jackscrew was designed to be independently controlled allowing the operator to not only position the drive collars at the correct height, but level them with the CNC machine to within 1/64th of an inch. With a total vertical travel height of 12 inches, the carts allow the operators to load a wide range of drive collar diameters, which increased CNC Machine utilization and reduced down time.
Wireless controls used to operate both the carts and lifts allow employees to remain a safe distance away from the load while the motorized carts are in operation. They also save time and energy expended during typical manual adjustment. To keep the carts conveniently powered whenever needed, each motorized transfer cart was also designed with an onboard battery and charging system.
In addition, this project included the design of 3 custom motorized carts used to move smaller drive collars around the facility. These units had side mounted controls for convenient size reduction during storage, while at the same time allowing the drive collar to hang over both ends. To secure the load during transport and eliminate the possibility of the operator moving more than one collar, the cart was designed with a custom V-groove holder.
For additional information on custom engineered solutions for your material handling challenges, contact us and a team member will help answer your questions.