NetComposites
Advanced Engineering 2018

Lifting the A350 to the Skies

06 September 2010

Lifting specialists, RHC Lifting Limited, has completed the commissioning process of one of Europe’s most technically advanced crane systems at GKN Aerospace’s new wing composite manufacturing facility in Bristol, UK.

To aid the semi-automated manufacturing operation, RHC Lifting designed, manufactured and installed two SWF Krantechnik branded multi-latching crane systems. Each system has a span of 32 meters, across three bays, with cross travel speeds of 5m/min, long travel speeds of 40m/min and hoisting speeds of 0.83-5m/min.

System One, located in the Clean Room, has three 10t SWL top running single girder latching cranes and two tandem pairs of 5t SWF Nova low headroom hoists, each bay has a gantry length of 41m with one transfer point in each bay. System Two, located in the Assembly Area, has five 6.4t SWL top running single girder latching cranes and four pairs of tandem 3.2t SWF Nova low headroom hoists, each bay has a gantry length of 104m with five transfer points.

To ensure the cranes met with the specialised requirements for the manufacture of composite structures, RHC Lifting incorporated a number of key design features to both systems including: inverter drives on all motions including hoisting for smooth and precise movement, anti-collision and exclusions zones to ensure components move around the facility safely, load displays, reeling drums and digital outputs to allow vacuum lifting beams to be fitted in the future.

Philip Goodway, One of RHC Lifting’s Directors, said “winning the contract was a great honour; as it is RHC Lifting’s biggest order to date. The cranes offered a number of technical challenges which we had to overcome to deliver the perfect solution for GKN Aerospace’s highly specialised requirements.”

Now the cranes are fully operational, RHC Lifting will provide GKN Aerospace with after sales care including, operator training, servicing, statutory inspections and provide 24/7 breakdown cover for the two year warrant period, as offered to all of RHC Lifting’s customers.

The new GKN Aerospace manufacturing facility in Western Approach will be the focus of the company’s A350 XWB participation, producing the A350 XWB rear wing spars and trailing edge assemblies, with production due to start at the end of this year.

GKN Aerospace’s General Manager, Charles Paterson, stated: “Our Bristol based operations, at Filton and Western Approach, represents the core of our world-leading wing structures activity. RHC Lifting’s crane systems sit at the heart of the new, state of the art manufacturing and assembly facility at Western Approach which will employ advanced GKN Aerospace developed processes and incorporate sophisticated automated production equipment to allow us to manufacture highly complex composite wing structures to exacting aerospace standards.”






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