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BAE Systems F-35 Lightning – Aerospace Production Line Handling

Aerospace, Nuclear & Defence

The Challenge

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.

The Solution

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.

Technical Details

Explore more specialist handling solutions from SCX