Worcester based Exmac Automation has completed a contract to design and install a materials handling system for a new Completely Knocked Down (CKD) facility at the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plant at Halewood, where complete car sets are prepared for shipping to various locations around the world for local re-assembly. The Land Rover Freelander 2, which is being assembled at a new JLR-built plant in Pune, India from 2011, is the first model to be shipped in kit form from the new CKD facility.
To prepare the knock-down kits for shipping, the production engineering team at JLR’s Halewood plant needed to create a handling system that would enable bodies and other components to be taken from existing production facilities and transported to the new CKD facility where they could be packed to ensure that vehicle kits are safe for shipping. Exmac worked closely in partnership with the JLR engineering team to develop both conveying and handling systems that would integrate seamlessly with the existing Freelander assembly system.
The Exmac contract was in two phases. First, the Exmac powered ‘Take-out’ roller bed system transfers painted Freelander 2 bodies onto a roller bed trailer, which tows them to the new CKD Building. There, the trailer is aligned with a cross transfer shuttle that takes bodies to one of three storage lanes, each able to accommodate four bodies. Phase two saw the installation of a crane and jib arm hoist systems as well as a shuttle and specialised conveyor line for a ‘Take-out’ system that moves vehicle components and bodies from the existing Freelander production line into the new CKD facility. A powered roller system in the CKD facility itself has also been installed to transport painted bodies on skids, together with specially designed slings to handle and manipulate the heavy components such as vehicle bodies and engine and powertrain components.
A fourth lane runs in the opposite direction to enable bodies to be re-circulated within the store. At the other end of the store another cross transfer shuttle, also equipped with a power roller bed, selects a body from one of the three storage lanes and powers it into the first of two stations. Here the doors are taken off the body and placed in a ‘toast rack’ while an overhead crane and hoist loads seats and a cockpit into the body. Next, the body is lifted from the workstation and placed onto a shipping pallet that has been pre-loaded – using an Exmac designed overhead hoist – with the engine, gearbox, transfer boxes, exhaust, wheels and tyres and various other components that comprise the complete car kit. The Exmac roller beds and slings used to manually handle components from stillages to platen, were specially designed to ensure that parts are balanced for safe handling. The body transfer skid is now powered forward onto a second roller bed and stacked, awaiting a full stack, which is then transferred onto the empty trailer and returned to the body take-out area.
Finally, the doors are removed from the ‘toast rack’ and re-loaded onto the pallet near their fitted position and supported by a holding fixture that forms part of the pallet. The engine, gearbox, transfer boxes, exhaust, wheels and tyres, and the various other components that comprise the complete car kit, are then arranged with the body on a single platen and securely packed for shipping. Commenting for Exmac, managing director Gary Sweeney says the company is proud to be associated with the new facility at Halewood, especially as it follows recently completed contracts for systems to install the new Jaguar XJ moon roof, roofs for the Evoque and Freelander 2 and a doors delivery system.
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