Bespoke Automated Turnover Machine

August 19, 2020

A world class aero-engine manufacturer with over 15 years of experience working with Andron, approached us to solve a major problem in their future plans.

Background

The ‘hubs’ of aero engine fans, compressors and turbines are large, highly accurate and incredibly expensive components that must be passed around a machine shop for their many machining and inspection processes.

The Technical Challenge

The lifting and loading of these components onto the machines presented no problem – however, their re-orientation had historically been carried during the lift – with complex slinging requirements or on the floor nearby.

These processes date back to the industrial revolution and are time consuming, and fraught with risk to both personnel and product; it wasn’t going to be good enough for this customer’s new facility and they needed someone to help.

The Andron Solution

Step forward Andron Handling; a bold proposal to adopt a pan-facility approach for the transport and turning of components with a bespoke automated turnover machine or turning station and a fully integrated transport trolley and accompanying quick-release tooling.

A fully functional prototype bespoke automated turnover machine was designed, built, tested and commissioned for use with 50 to 400 kg components of 500 to 1000mm diameter of any profile the customer might need. The quick-release tooling solution was fully future proofed and allowed for completely open future product expansion.

The bespoke automated turnover machine itself comprises a vertical lift system with a front-loading jaw capable of lifting and rotating the component continuously through a horizontal axis. The station is fully caged for operator safety and has an integrated trolley transport system which docks via a datumming system as the required accuracy for contact with the components is +/-2mm.

The machine is pre-programmed with a plethora of component and tooling data and to ensure the process is correctly configured, the operator simply barcode scans the tooling and the component and then selects his required orientation change. Upon closing the door, the operator waits for the process to complete and withdraws the trolley with the component in its new orientation.  

The integrated transport system also allows for the safe storage and protection of the components throughout their journey through the facility.

Passing scrupulous testing and trials the approach was agreed and a further 10 units were commissioned to be placed at all strategic points around the facility to ensure high levels of machining up-time. Several product change programs have been successfully implemented with customer-enabled ‘teaching’ and additional quick release tooling to accommodate the changing product.

This facility now sets the standard for product turning in this type of operation; fast, accurate, repeatable and with no risk to operator through complex lifting operations.