Automated Wheel and Strut Paint Line Monorail System

US Air Force

Automotive Industry | Manufacturing | Aerospace | Crane Systems | Power & Motion Technology | Automation | By Lynn Bostrom | Nov 24, 2009

This United States Air Force Base’s aircraft maintenance group was faced with significantly increased workloads but no increase in personnel or work area. Striving to provide quality jet aircraft parts, on time and within budget, Lean Manufacturing principles were implemented in the facility to reduce fl ow days and boost productivity through waste reduction. 

Each maintenance area was improved through employee and management involvement on process improvement teams. Work areas were studied, ideas were discussed and analyzed, then Lean Manufacturing principles were applied throughout the facility. The end goal of the overall Lean transformation project was to improve productivity with zero overtime.

A customized overhead materials delivery system was designed and installed that automated and integrated nine overhead monorail carriers from two separate wheel and strut delivery lines through a single, shared paint line process. Magnetek’s application expertise was provided to meet the goals of this overall Lean transformation project.

Magnetek designed a custom monorail control system that streamlined and automated the wheel and strut paint line process. The monorail carriers were powered by IMPULSE® adjustable frequency drives that are capable of working in a variety of high performance environments. Not only are the IMPULSE drives designed specifically for crane and hoist applications, they also offer more versatility than traditional contactor controls and a smaller footprint for flexible installation. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) was used to run the automation portion of the system.

A low-profile FABA Conductor Bar System was installed for power and control of the integrated line. This conductor bar system facilitated the just-in-time production and delivery required by the end user. Also, stringent safety guidelines needed to be met, and FABA is designed to ensure maximum protection against accidental electrical contact as the conductor bar is enclosed in a PVC housing that is non-flammable and chemical resistant. FABA also met the stringent efficiency guidelines of the end user as its design ensures continuous electrical contact and maximum load control without chains, belts or moving parts, reducing the need for maintenance.

A combination of an 18K radio control system with SLTX radio transmitters and fixed mounted operators push-button stations were implemented for intervention throughout the system. The 18K receiver was custom engineered to meet the application’s specifications. The SLTX heavy-duty wireless remote radio controls where chosen because they are designed to withstand harsh environments and use military grade auxiliary function switches, meeting the end user’s requirements.

Two push-button stations for manual control installed in the paint booths are Class I, Div. 1, Intrinsically Safe workstations meet safety specifications. Also installed were two Human Machine Interface (HMI) computer touch screens for imputing data and system status reporting. Each of the nine carriers on the system utilizes Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as identification for further efficiency.

Integrate wheel and strut manufacturing lines through a shared paint process line while meeting stringent requirements. Use Lean Manufacturing principles to reduce the amount of labor required and lines used to manually paint wheels and struts.

Engineered a customized system that automated and integrated nine carriers from two lines through a single process line consisting of two paint booths, two ovens and a wash booth. Automated the painting delivery system of the wheels and struts and provided application expertise to achieve maximum performance to fulfill Lean Manufacturing principles. Increased efficiency by combining two separate lines that share the same processes.

Automated Wheel and Strut Paint Line Monorail System

An automated wheel and strut paint system consisting of 15 automated monorail carriers (nine initially, six added later) with two separate product lines sharing one prime-and-finish paint processing system. HMI color touch screen operator interfaces are used to report system status, wireless Ethernet RF is used for communication between system controller and carriers, and RFID technology is used for product tracking.