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GKN Driveline Deutschland GmbH, Mosel plant

Making heavy machinery float on air: using air cushion technology to relocate a hardening machine

Our job doesn't always involve taking machinery from one end of the earth to the other. Often, our customers only want us to move equipment around their own site. But that doesn’t make our work any easier. There are still a number of challenges to overcome, as the case of GKN Driveline Deutschland GmbH’s Mosel plant near Zwickau shows.

Even when relocating machinery within the same building, our professionals still have time and spatial restrictions to contend with. Sometimes they have to avoid interrupting ongoing production. Other times, the amount of space they have to work with can be very tight. When halls are built around systems with very long lifespans, there’s often very little room for maneuver if equipment needs to be relocated. But SCHOLPP’s specialists always rise to the challenge. They love making the seemingly impossible, possible.

Relocation without dismantling

GKN Driveline is the leading supplier of power transmission systems and solutions for the automotive industry. It has 24,000 employees at 56 sites across 22 countries, all working to develop and manufacture a wide range of drive systems for leading vehicle manufacturers. In January 2015, GKN’s Mosel site decided to relocate a hardening machine within one of its halls. This included the entire steel structure and all of the associated media components such as the switch and control cabinet, coolant reservoirs and coolant and lubrication systems. The main challenge here was that in order to get the project completed as quickly as possible, the company wanted to avoid dismantling and reassembling the unit entirely, and instead leave the steel structure in one piece. The tight pathways around the building and the sometimes very uneven flooring made the project even more difficult. Weighing in at 11 tons, and measuring 6.70 meters long, 4.30 meters wide and 6.40 meters high, the system was cumbersome to say the least. Its basic structure was similar to that of a four-legged table.

Seven days of work saved

GKN and SCHOLPP have been working together since 2008. So it was no surprise that the company asked our specialists to assist with this tricky project. Project Manager Mario König explains: “The only way we could move the hardening machine was by using air cushion technology. We started by creating special brackets to lift the steel structure, onto which we positioned the four legs of the machine.” This helped to combat the various obstacles that lay in wait along the path to the system’s new location. The switch cabinet was hung from the structure itself. Then, the whole system was “floated” down the hall on an air cushion. This technology provides a high level of maneuverability using very little power. At GKN in Mosel, it enabled staff to weave their way through bottleneck areas such as spaces next to other production systems, transfer units and information boards. (See image/graphic) “Using this method to transport the system saved around seven days of dismantling and reassembly work, so we were able to keep downtime to a minimum for the customer. The entire project was completed within just six days,” reports Mario König.

In brief:

Relocating a hardening machine

Equipment used:

DELU 036LE-53 air cushion system, 3.6 t. a pad

Unique factors:

No need to completely dismantle and reassemble the system, very tight spaces, creation of tailor-made brackets to lift the steel structure

Want to know more about this project? Please contact the SCHOLPP specialists.