Overhead Handling: Moving aircraft parts safely

SIFCO Industries installs an overhead monorail and trolley hoist system to move aircraft parts safely through the electroplating process.

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In 1913, five entrepreneurs in Cleveland formed the Steel Improvement and Forging Co. SIFCO Industries continues to produce special parts for the aviation industry and other general industrial parts and operates in the same facility.

Electroplating aircraft parts is just one of the functions performed in its operation. But before parts can be plated, they have to be cleaned and prepped, which involves submerging them in a series of tanks containing cleaning and quenching solutions. SIFCO was using a standard bridge and single hoist system to cycle the parts from one side of the area to the other, which was a lengthy process. It was also unsafe as operators would often be directly in the path of tanks and exposed to splashing and dripping totes moving across the main operator platform.

SIFCO addressed a number of issues with one overhead handling solution by installing two 2-speed motorized extended duty trolley hoists and a manual chain-fall hoist mounted on a closed loop monorail (Columbus McKinnon). Both electrics and the hand-chain hoist are equipped with a zinc-plated chain for added corrosion resistance, and a manual chain-fall hoist serves as a back-up in the event of a power failure.

The new system’s motorized trolleys move seamlessly around the monorail and can negotiate its curves.  Traveling on the oval loop makes off-loading easier and keeps operators inside the path of the totes. And, the system’s low travel speed minimizes sway when moving between the tanks, which were repositioned so that minimal time is lost between consecutive processes.

Additionally, the smaller, intuitive pendants on the hoists provide operators with single-handed control so they can help guide the parts totes with the other hand.

The single-operator functions of running the plating line have improved productivity by 100%, since two hoists in operation can lift twice as many totes in any given shift.

About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

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