In 2001 Jaguar sold more than 100,000 cars worldwide, the most it has ever sold in a single year. That this was achieved was due in part to the 30,000 X-type sports saloons sold since its mid-year launch. The launch of the X-type is key to Jaguar’s development as a major competitor in the premium car segment. Says Jonathan Browning, managing director of UK-based Jaguar Cars: “The X-type will more than double Jaguar’s sales worldwide and when the F Type is added in around three to four years time, Jaguar will have transformed from a two car line niche player to a five car line company which is a significant competitor to Mercedes, BMW and Lexus in every major market across the globe.” The X-type is built at Jaguar’s Halewood factory in the UK which re-opened in May last year after a £300m ($450m) re-fit, involving total renewal of 75% of the plant.

The Halewood automotive plant on Merseyside was originally opened by the Ford Motor Company in the early 1960s, with the first car being produced in March 1963. Over the years, Ford produced models such as the Anglia, Corsair, Cortina, Capri, Zephyr, Zodiac and the highly successful Ford Escort which was first introduced in 1968.

In 1991 Halewood’s five-millionth Escort came off the production line. In July 2000 the last ever Ford Escort to be produced at the plant rolled off the production line and Jaguar, a subsidiary of Ford since 1990, implemented its major plant refurbishment programme.

Nearly all of the cranes at the Halewood plant were built by JH Carruthers & Co Ltd, which was acquired by KCI Konecranes in 1991 and is now known as Konecranes (UK) Ltd. The cranes are mainly of conventional double girder construction with a small number of Carruthers Monobox single girder torsion cranes.

Jaguar Cars and Konecranes (UK) engineers inspected the existing cranes, comparing the original design specifications with the plant’s new requirements for crane operations. This joint review resulted in specifications and phased refurbishment and modernisation proposals being created for the key cranes to match the production process of the X-type.

The main thrust of Konecranes (UK) project team’s proposals was to give the old Carruthers cranes the kind of step change in performance, control, safety and reliability to match that of the new Jaguar X-type compared to the old Ford models previously produced at the Halewood plant, says Konecranes. The value of its contract exceeded E1.37m.

Refurbishment and modernisation of the cranes involved replacing the old Carruthers open winch double girder trolleys with all new SM Spacemaker trolleys, replacing existing slipring motor controls with Konecranes DynAHoist and DynAC drives for trolley and bridge movements. Complete electrical rewiring was required with new festoon cables and new electrical control cubicles.

The line shaft single motor long travel drive arrangements have also been replaced with twin Konecranes GM drives, using existing wheels where they have been altered to be of live axle design.

Two of the cranes had suffered extensively through poor rail alignment and hard use over a number of years. Both of these were removed from the rails and taken back to the Konecranes (UK) factory in East Kilbride near Glasgow. There they were totally stripped of the old end carriages and drive arrangements and all new Konecranes SH bogies were fitted. Prior to the end carriage change, the offending long travel rails were replaced and re-aligned.

Benefits of the more modern SM Spacemaker trolleys over what they have replaced include low dead weight (allowing some increased capacity where required), true vertical lifting, overload protection and platforms for maintenance access.

DynAHoist and DynAC inverter variable speed drives removed the need for micro speed control and reduced stress in components and the structure. This maximised performance, giving smooth operation and added safety supervision and maintenance diagnostics. DynA drive technology and some new slipring motor controls were also used in some of the other cranes where the hoist machinery was retained. The design brief on the selection of equipment was to maximise the operational life of the cranes, to ensure spares availability and to use a common design approach with the same components on more than one crane, thereby reducing the number of spare parts to be held.

Jaguar also has a car plant in Castle Bromwich, where Konecranes (UK) has also been working. In April it supplied and installed a 32t SWL (2x16t) crane, a 10t SWL (2x5t) crane, three gantries, and a 32/16t crane. It is also supplying spare parts and is modifying existing cranes.

The new cranes are a mix of CXT and XLD models with DynAHoist and DynAC controls with built-in maintenance diagnostics allowing faster and more accurate trouble shooting and planned service and repairs. Called Premium, this new monitoring system from Konecranes is designed to maximise hoist and crane safety and performance control. The system is based on electronics and software design and makes the handling of heavy loads safer and easier.

Modernisation of an existing Kone crane at Castle Bromwich involved fitting DynAHoist controls to synchronise the main and auxiliary hoists during tandem operation. The contract value here was about E400,000.