BAE - Post-Furnace Handling System

SCX Special Projects custom-designed a system capable of handling delicate blow-moulded jet fighter wing-sections direct from a burning furnace at BAE Systems in Salmesbury.

The introduction of the then-new Eurofighter jet plane meant BAE had to introduce a new production technique in order to manufacture the titanium wing sections. The wings would be blow-moulded in a furnace at over 800°C, but to make this process feasible, BAE required a handling system capable of removing the wing sections from the furnace and transporting them first to a cooling area and then onwards in the production process.

SCX Special Projects created a handling system capable of operating in these extreme temperatures, and of carefully handling the hot and therefore still-malleable sections of wing, in order to allow BAE to utilise this new production technique safely and efficiently.

Post-furnace handling system for jet fighter wings

The forks can withstand temperatures up to 1100°C, and all materials, components and greases offer the necessary protection from the heat of the furnace. Key components incorporate further shielding, such as the heat-resistant coating which insulates the drag chain power feed.

The 300kg SWL system is operated from a control desk mounted to the rear of the forks and protected by a transparent shield, offering the necessary protection from the furnace whilst providing the optimum view of the operation. Joystick control allows the operator to adjust every movement with precision, from the furnace onto the set-down area for cooling, and then onto a specifically designed trolley for onwards production.

Rendering of a post-furnace handling system

The forks slew through 180° of rotation, achieved using a motorised slewing ring mounted on a precision-machined plate and high specification needle roller bearings to ensure smooth rotation: Combining this with the forks’ pincer motion, the rising and lowering similar to a forklift truck and the long-travel and cross-travel movements provided by the gantry enables accurate positioning of the components.

Rendering of a post-furnace handling system

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199