Doors Off Lift Assistors
Doors are lifted and manoeuvred several times in an automotive factory but in this scenario at JLR Solihull, the doors off lift assistors take the doors off the painted body to follow their own production line (before being reunited with the same vehicle just before the end of the main assembly line).
When the doors off lift assistors remove the doors from the vehicle, they are placed on a carrier frame which arrives alongside the vehicle at the point of removal. The doors must be placed in this frame with the inside facing the operator so that, when having its internal components fitted, (window, winder, catch, speakers, lights, handles, lining etc) the operator on the door line has easy access.
The Technical Challenge
On this JLR Solihull application, in order to minimise customer expenditure, the doors off lift assistors had to be capable of lifting both the front and rear doors on several different vehicle types. The door at this stage is empty and has no features apart from its inner and outer skins and its window frame. Combined with the essential need to preserve product quality by not marking any finished paint surfaces, this made the gripping of the door quite challenging.
The Andron Solution
Using a technique pioneered by Andron for Jaguar in the early 2000s, a compact gripper is inserted into the gap where the window would be and profiled blocks engage with features deep inside the door assembly. These blocks rotate to lock and then pull up to secure the door to the gripper mechanism. Sight unseen, the operator simply gets an ‘OK to Lift’ signal from the gripper.
Automatically switching to a balanced load, the Andron lightweight (SLA type arm) doors off lift assistors swing across the station to provide effortless transfer. The operator simply holds the edges of the door and lifts it clear of the car, takes it to the carrier and lowers it into position.
Benefitting from a wire-rope attachment, the operator has full and free rotation about a suspension point on the gripper, allowing for highly-intuitive control in manipulating the door with the doors off lift assistors.
Due to its compact nature, the gripper is well suited from being attached to one side of the door and removed from the other – a key feature in space-limited areas.
In addition to this application at JLR Solihull, this approach for door transfer has been tailored to customer needs for over 20 lift and transfer operations for empty doors.