As a principal partner in the F-35 Lightning project, BAE Systems manufactures the rear fuselage and tail of the fighter jet in their Samlesbury plant. With a production volume target of over 3,000 planes, BAE Systems needed to increase output from one plane a week, to one a day.
Partially assembled components were being moved manually around the plant on trolleys at floor level, an inefficient use of space and a slow labour-intensive process. Adopting the latest automated assembly line thinking and technology would be key to reaching the new target.
SCX created a first-of-a-kind, automotive-inspired production line handling solution that transfers components via 38 trolleys on a monorail high above the factory floor. The solution enables the fast transfer of trolleys between workstations, where semi-automated hoists lower the component cradles to floor level.
SCX also engineered the steel supporting structure, gantry interface cranes and the trolley hoists with their semi-automated cradles. The system is fully integrated – as each stage is completed, the cradle is hoisted back up and the entire assembly line moves on to the next stage of production.