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Caterpillar conveying a safety message

21 January 2013

Caterpillar established its Stockton facility in 1996 when it took over the plant formerly owned and operated by Brown Design engineering.

Caterpillar established its Stockton facility in 1996 when it took over the plant formerly owned and operated by Brown Design engineering.

Since its opening, the plant has been responsible for producing the key fabrications that go towards assembling Caterpillar's 'F Series â€" Backhoe Loader' product which is built in Leicester.

"Here at Stockton," explains Peter Roberts, senior manufacturing project specialist at the Caterpillar Stockton site, "we are extremely proud of both our safety record and the efficiency of the plant.

"Indeed, it is these key drivers that were responsible for our decision to automate the conveyor systems at the facility." Prior to the introduction of these automated systems, Caterpillar used to move heavy parts around by overhead crane and forklift trucks.

This system was no longer efficient and did not make best use of the floor space within the facility.

To address the issue, CI Logistics has designed, installed and commissioned conveyors and transfer cars at three important stages of the production process.

The first location is at the hitch assembly where they have created what is essentially a product cooling line between two welding stations.

The heavy steel product is loaded onto a transfer car at one end and indexed down the line station by station. At the end of the line it is lifted, via a scissor lift incorporated into the transfer car, onto a higher platform for the next process.

At the main frame assembly, the company again needed a work-inprogress accumulation to cool the main frames after robotic welding.

CI built a transfer car system capable of handling these large, heavy items.

The system automatically indexes each chassis forward to the next station allowing for dynamic accumulation with no loss of positions on the line.

The third solution was for the side frames line and tower assembly sets.

Here they designed two systems that mirrored each other to maintain a smooth flow of work. The side frames are automatically indexed forward to the next station via a transfer car, similar to the mainframe chassis. In this line, however, they have had to develop a system that takes the product through a 90- degree direction change in order to fit the system into the existing workflow.
 
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