Cockpits for the MINI are delivered to Oxford using road trailers with on-board, chain-driven conveyor systems. On arrival, trailers are docked with a receiving conveyor. Originally the cockpits, each mounted on a platen 1540mm long x 890mm wide and 660mm high and weighing 100kgs including the platen, were discharged in sequence and transported by a chain-to-chain live roller conveyor to a drop section, which raised the platen from the basement to a ground-floor Cockpit fit station alongside the production line.
As the platen was delivered to the Cockpit fit station, an operator lifted the cockpit directly from the platen using a special manipulator, and introduced it into the vehicle. The elevator then returned the empty platen to an intermediate level for return to the empty trailer.
Due to process changes, the Cockpit fit station needed to be relocated approximately 20 metres further along the production line. The move required the design of a new conveying and handling system to transport the loaded platen out of the drop section to the new fitting position, relocating the manipulator (and standby manipulator), implementing a new light guard array to the new position and a means of returning the platen to the drop section for onward despatch.
Excel Automation, which was able to show the MINI team a similar system undergoing a factory acceptance trial at its Worcester factory, and had installed a handling and conveying system for sequencing the same cockpit platens at a Magna Intier plant, was awarded the contract.
The new 20 metre Excel conveying system takes platens on a two-tier conveyor to a new Cockpit fit station where they are removed from the platen and fitted to the vehicle. Empty platens are then lowered 900mm to the lower tier and returned to the same drop section that brought it up to the ground floor. From there it is transported back into a trailer for return transport.
The success of the project is attributed to a number of factors: the new conveyor system’s software was fully de-bugged before going live; the Cockpit extension was assembled and FAT tested at Excel’s factory to ensure that installation and integration went smoothly from start-up; and it operates extremely quietly and has been trouble-free to date.
Tel: 01905 721500