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Case Study # 4

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An AGV System for Alumnia Processing

At one of Rio Tinto's Alcan Aluminum facilities, Six Sigma DMAIC initiatives steered the industry's leading global supplier of bauxite, alumina and aluminum to Doerfer's AGV Pot Line Systems for ore bucket management.

Click on images for larger view and captions

Aluminum Ore

Dual Carry AGV Operation

Automatic guidance or manual operation for dual position loads drives productivity by eliminating vehicle dead-heading during load replenishments. Reduced facility traffic drives increased aisle safety.

 

CHALLENGE: Eliminate unsafe conditions in the handling of alumina and bauxite ore buckets, including line-of-sight blockage, turn swing outs, high traffic, equipment stoppage, high maintenance, and unpredictability. Replacement process requires high load capacity, close positioning, repeatability, and a high degree of maneuverability for operating in narrow aisles with other vehicle and pedestrian traffic in compliance with Alcan Aluminum's Six Sigma initiatives.

SOLUTION: Provide uniquely coupled automatic system with dual position Wheelift AGVs with hybrid vehicle navigation system. Each half is capable of independent automatic/manual operation.

BENEFITS:

  • Area safety
  • Process control
  • Pot Room delivery redundancy
  • Greatly reduced traffic via dual load deck



 

 

Diagonal travel, Dual Carry AGV System

Independent Vehicle Operation


As a company that has the world's largest share of first quartile aluminum production capacity, Rio Tinto Alcan looked to Wheelift for an AGV based system to improve their ore bucket handling at one of their bauxite and alumina processing facilities. In Wheelift's response, each Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) has full independent operation capability, facilitating push-pull operation, maintenance maneuverability, repair, and production work surges

Joined AGV for dual carry funcitonality

Crab steering, bi-directional movement, automatic navigation, 360-degree laser protection, dual load decks, and independent operation are the key attributes of Doerfer's AGV Pot Line System for ore bucket management. It offers one-of-a-kind solution no other technology set can duplicate. Pot lines are a dangerous area subject to air-born alumina, floor buildup, floor debris, and hot depleted anodes along with green anode delivery and other traffic.

 

Single or dual operation

 

AGV travel paths



Early Alcan Aluminum ore bucket systems used a variety of explosive LP powered tugs towing single position trailers. This type of process requires large turning radii, sweeping moves, and continual load jogging for crane hookup alignment and filler tube insertion. A primary safety issue adding substantial risk with every move is that the tug operator cannot see around the ore bucket. Operator mobilization every time a fill or drop-off is called for drives productivity down. Later systems used single load position AGVs; however 50% of the moves are dead-headed creating undue traffic risk along with added capital and life cycle expenses. Doerfer's "dual" Wheelift AGVs each have four on-center rotational axle assemblies making a 38' long dual load deck practical and cost efficient. The axles have interconnecting fluid lines that divide them into load sharing groups to assure that every wheel carries only its specific share of the load, regardless of ore bucket load condition, obstacles, slopes, and irregularities in the floor surfaces. Floor loading is dispersed with ground pressure loads distributed over a wide footprint.

 

 

Side slope capability

With their 3-point equalizing suspension, the axles have interconnecting fluid lines that divide them into load sharing groups to assure that every wheel carries only its specific share of the load, regardless of ore bucket load condition, obstacles, slopes, and irregularities in the floor surfaces. Floor loading is dispersed with ground pressure loads distributed over a wide footprint.

 

Aluminum ore pot line

The Uniload® Module provides high capacity along with a degree of flexibility not obtainable through other technologies. Wheelift Transporters and AGVs enable manufacturing flexibility with configurable work processes facilitating new design freedoms benefiting worldwide niche markets.

Wheelift Transporters and AGVs are manufactured in Iowa and are custom engineered to application specific requirements. Chassis and fixtures are available with load capacities to 500+ tons and deck heights as low as 18.5". Power options include diesel, LP gas, battery, or umbilical cord. Computerized all electric omni-directional drives are standard with individual axle ratings of 15, 20, or 30-ton.

Wheelift® is a Doerfer Companies technology. Doerfer engineers and builds application specific manufacturing machinery and systems. Operating from four North American locations with over 700,000 sq. ft. and 500+ employees, Doerfer offers an array of engineering and manufacturing resources and is NQA-1 certified.

SUMMATION: For pot line systems, such as the one considered at Alcan Aluminum, the versatile Wheelift Transporters and AGVs can play an important roll in carrying much larger loads and handling the ore buckets with greater safety in meeting Six Sigma initiatives.



TRADEMARKS


The following terms that are used through this website: Wheelift®, Uniload®, SynchroSteer®, StackAxle®, TrackAxle™ and OmniAxle are all trademarks that are exclusively licensed to Doerfer Companies.