Rail-based assembly line with integrated lifting platforms

Paul Boughton
Strothmann has implemented a rail-based assembly line with integrated lifting platforms at KION Warehouse Systems in Reutlingen, Germany.

The project is based on Strothmann’s RoundTrack technology featuring especially smoothly and quietly running rollers made of ball bearing steel. Kion Warehouse Systems has been producing order pickers in flow assembly for years.

However, while cranes used to be the only mode of transport for moving the three-ton vehicles from station to station, now they are only needed to lift the order pickers onto the trolleys at the start of the line. Subsequently, the trolleys are pushed along manually.

The marked reduction in crane usage has increased work safety. Simultaneously, non-value-added handling effort has been minimised and ergonomics have been improved. [Page Break]

In co-operation with Kion, handling and logistics expert Strothmann has tailored the rail transport concept to the customer’s requirements. Three hydraulic lifting platforms were embedded in the floor.

The trolleys are simply rolled onto the platforms at the work stations, fixed, and – still standing on the tracks – lifted along with the payload. The height can be freely adjusted.

In the elevated position, the trolleys are secured against rolling away by a locking lever. The platforms are lowered by the load alone. The system has been tested and approved for safe operation. [Page Break]

Another lifting platform at the end of the line can be lowered below floor level, allowing the order pickers to drive out of the line on their own wheels.

Moreover, the customer project resulted in newly designed combined rail trolleys and rolling pallets: Strothmann fitted them with an extra set of rubber wheels suitable for manoeuvring the hall floor which can be lowered by operating a pneumatic foot pedal. This feature allows for trolleys to be easily fed into the manufacturing line and moved from the line end back to the first station. Kion also uses these trolleys-turned-rolling-pallets to transport light frame parts from the paint shop to the line. The combined innovations to the RoundTrack system have further increased its flexibility and reduced the purchase costs. The integration of lifting platforms, for instance, allows Kion to use lower-cost trolleys.

For more information, visit www.strothmann.com

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