Demag Cranes Chosen for Airbus Assembly Line in USA
Terex Material Handling has been awarded a contract by Airbus to supply Demag crane installations for its new assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Ten process cranes will be employed for the final assembly of the A320 family of aircraft in three production hangars. Measuring up to 66.5m in length and offering maximum load capacities of 25 tonnes, the process cranes feature up to four suspensions for safe and precise handling of sensitive aircraft components.
The heart of the new Airbus plant is the 255m-long final assembly line hangar, where five process cranes will operate in a series of three assembly zones. In zone one, three cranes will be installed for transporting fuselages for the fuselage assembly operation.
Featuring quadruple suspension arrangements, the double-girder suspension cranes travel on a common crane runway. Installed on each of the crane girders is a main trolley, which accommodates four Demag 6.3t hoist units that operate on two traversing bridges. Thanks to the precise control of 12 motion axes per crane, Airbus will be able to position the individual fuselage sections that measure 3.96m in diameter with a high level of accuracy.
To ensure that the fuselage segments are gently picked up, the cranes will be equipped with a semi-automatic rope tensioning system. Once the four hoist units have each lifted a specified load of 300kg, they continue to lift the suspended payload in a synchronised motion to avoid any flexing of the sensitive aircraft components.
After all fuselage segments have been assembled, the cranes transport the complete fuselage to the next assembly station. To do this, both process cranes and their eight hoist units operate under synchronised control.
In zone two, two wing-handling cranes will be responsible for the lifting motions during the wing assembly process. Both process cranes are each equipped with two traversing bridges with a total of three 3.2t hoist units, which pick up the waiting wings and position them precisely as required for the assembly operation.
Finally, in zone three, an assembly crane with a 5t Demag standard-headroom traveling hoist unit will be used for the assembly of the tail units and handling other components.
Lutz Dowy, vice president global product management and process cranes at Terex Material Handling, said: “We supply crane systems that are tailored to meet the demands of aircraft logistics and assembly operations. We are providing Airbus with a strong crane concept for a continuous intralogistic solution.”
John Paxton, vice president and general manager of Terex Material Handling North America, added: “Our unique local U.S. capability to deliver complex solutions coupled with proven worldwide successes with similar Airbus projects were key factors to winning this order.”
Two identical Demag process cranes of single-girder design will also be used in the final phase hangar. These cranes feature multiple suspensions and each operates on four crane runways that are arranged parallel to each other. With a length of 40m and a load capacity of 5t, these crane installations are designed for transporting the components swiftly to where they are needed for installation on the aircraft.
The individual parts of the aircraft, such as the fuselage, wings and tail unit, are pre-assembled at locations throughout the Airbus European production network and will be transported to the transhipment hangar in Mobile.
Two single-girder suspension cranes, each equipped with two 7.5t Demag hoist units, operate in this hangar, which is upstream of the assembly process. The cranes are employed as stand-alone units as well as in tandem mode for handling the incoming aircraft components. Monitoring systems provide for synchronised lifting and transport motions with up to four hoist units to ensure that even large and bulky assemblies are handled safely and reliably.
Pictured: A Demag process crane at an Airbus assembly line in Hamburg, Germany.