5 August 2010

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.

The 185 x 100m newbuild was originally designed as a warehouse, thus, GKN had to strengthen the structure, which still moves laterally +/- 30mm when under load. Tolerance is built into the crane structures, which can access all but a small section of the building.


To aid the semi-automated manufacturing operation, which will begin at the end of this year, RHC Lifting designed, manufactured and installed two SWF Krantechnik multi-latching crane systems.

Each system has a span of 32m, 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 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 top running single girder latching cranes and five pairs of tandem 3.2t SWF Nova low headroom hoists; each bay has a gantry length of 104m with four transfer points.

To ensure the cranes met GKN Aerospace’s specialised requirements, RHC Lifting incorporated a number of key design features to both systems, including inverter drives to all motions including hoisting, anti-collision and exclusion zones, load displays, reeling drums and digital outputs to allow vacuum lifting beams to be fitted in the future.


All crane beams and hoists have their own Siemens PLCs, which are all controlled, wirelessly, by a floor mounted Siemens central control safety PLC. This allows all hoists to travel on any crane beam on the system and gives infinite configurations of the crane system. Two floor mounted Siemens HMI screens will display schematics of the systems, including information on loads, current locations of crane beams or hoists, as well as basic maintenance diagnostics to reduce the need to hire mobile access platforms for all breakdowns.

Seven Autec C26PRO radio remotes, with Sirio joystick transmitters and infrared start up will allow GKN Aerospace employees to capture and release cranes and hoists, increasing the efficiency of moving loads between different processes in the facility. The first phase of operator training has already taken place.


Now the cranes are fully operational, RHC Lifting will provide GKN Aerospace with aftersales care including servicing, statutory inspections and provide 24/7 breakdown cover for the two year warranty period, as offered to all of RHC Lifting's customers. There are 11 RHC service engineers based in the Bristol area.


The new GKN Aerospace manufacturing facility in Western Approach will be the focus of the company’s A350 XWB participation, producing the A350 XWB wing spars and trailing edge assemblies.


From left to right: Gerard Peace (RHC’s component sales manager), Verena Eder (SWF Krantechnik representative), Phil Goodway (RHC director), Ian Robinson (SWF Krantechnik representative) and Dean Greenham (GKN Aerospace’s project manager).

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