Wrap-around fingers

24 April 2008

Technicians now inspect Trent aircraft engines by Rolls Royce on eight elevating platforms from Planet Platforms of West Yorkshire, UK. Their work surfaces provide multi-level, 360° access to the four different-sized engines.

The access solution, recently delivered to the manufacturer’s customer delivery centre in Derby, comprise independently operating, pneumatically-driven aluminium ‘fingers’. Each finger contains a sensor that allows the unit’s computer controller to stop movement just before hitting the engine.

Hydraulic scissor mechanisms raise the platforms to three heights, spanning 1131 to 2981 mm. Four of the eight AIRdeck units are fixed along the inspection line; four others mount on hover pads, allowing their movement away from the inspection line, for engine placement and removal.

Toby Pemberton, manager of the project for Planet Platforms says the Rolls Royce inspection line is a highly sophisticated, highly technical environment and as such “required an access solution with very specific considerations.... We started from the ground up and designed the system specifically for the application.”

Having installed the system, Planet realised that it could have applications elsewhere, as Mr Pemberton says; “Although [AIRdeck] was designed to allow engineers close access to aviation engines, the principle of the pneumatic fingers could be applied to the manufacture, inspection or maintenance of any large object. It therefore made sense to give the system a name and roll it out to a wider audience.”

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