Wheelift Transporter cuts manufacturing costs

By Alex Dahm26 September 2011

Efficiently moving gas turbines and generator sets around in their production environment is challenging, time consuming and expensive.

Generator sets, up to 22 megawatts and 30,0000 horsepower, can weigh as much as 200,000 pounds. Packed for shipping, these loads can be 30 feet long by 18 wide and 15 high (9 x 5.5 x 4.6 metres). Extra-heavy duty forklifts, contracted-out riggers and fixed industrial cranes are been the traditional methods used to move these behemoths from milling to assembly to shipping. Space constraints within the facility often restrict the ability to adopt the most efficient means during the manufacturing process when the products need to be manoeuvred from one process to the next and finally packaged and prepared for shipping.

To solve these problems for Solar Turbines Inc in San Diego, California, USA-based manufacturer Wheelift supplied a pair of its In-Plant Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (IP-SPMT). The transporters were installed at the Solar plant in Mabank, Texas. Stephen Burkhalter, Solar Turbines job co-ordinator, said the IP-SPMT allows the Caterpillar subsidiary to operate four times more quickly and use one third of the personnel formerly needed.

"We purchased the transporters due to factory constraints. We don't have the space for big tugs. Our space is limited and, instead of spending the money on a new building or increasing our floor space, these transporters can turn very sharply and manoeuvre these packages in any way we choose." said Paul Keifer, Solar Turbine value stream manager.

The open-centre axle concept allows IP-SPMT designs that are compact with lower deck height and with more capacity per axle, according to Mel Terry at Wheelift. Solid polyurethane tyres make them more suitable for heavy moving systems across the deteriorated floors in many heavy assembly and process areas. Low deck height, omni-directional steering, on-centre rotation axle assemblies and all-wheel electric motor drives allow manoeuvring in small spaces, 90-degree turns, diagonal and sideways movements, etc.

The transporters are self propelled and self contained with a choice of LP gas, diesel or battery power. A lift function allows the unit to drive under, lift and carry loads that are supported on stands.

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