Workstation bridge crane handles big jobs for small machine shop
June 01, 2012 - MMH Editorial
The Fuller Machine Shop, located in Newport, N.Y., tools metal parts for customers in a number of industries including aerospace, computer, solar and alternative energy.
The company has been independently owned and operated by Rodney Fuller for the past 15 years. As a skilled machinist and businessman, Fuller was growing the business and expanding his customer base. But as that customer base grew and the parts he was running through his lathes and milling machines were becoming larger and more diverse, Fuller had a heavy problem on his hands.
“A lot of the parts were small, maybe 65 pounds, but now we’re getting parts that are 12-inches in diameter and weight about 225 pounds,” says Fuller.
The challenge was how to handle the larger parts and safely and efficiently load them into the lathe and milling machines. Fuller had been using an engine hoist, but it would take three workers to maneuver the load.
So Fuller invested in a ceiling-mounted, workstation bridge crane with a 500-pound lifting capacity (Gorbel, gorbel.com). The overhead system features an enclosed track that allows the crane to move with very minimal manual effort.
“The system has exceeded my expectations,” says Fuller. “What used to take three people 45 minutes is now a one person job that only takes a minute or two. Our productivity has improved significantly.”
The bridge crane has also solved the problem of maneuvering the chucks that hold the metal in place while it’s being processed. Moving the chucks, which weigh about 80 pounds each, had required the workers to simultaneously lift and reach out about 18 inches. The bridge crane makes maneuvering easy, which is crucial because Fuller’s is a job shop, meaning everyday is a different job with a different set up.
The overhead bridge crane has made handling easier, improved productivity and safeguarded the operation.