Case Study 007 - Ford Ingersol

FORD MOTOR CO required a system for retaining and collecting oils 'lost' during the manufacturing process.
 
ABSTRACT
 
FORD MOTOR CO. through Ingersol/Cinetic was building second transmission manufacturing line to include multi-station assembly and “hot” testing of transmissions. As part of the proposed process, there were several areas where transmission oils would be used for testing and final assembly. The overall manufacturing process required a means for retaining and collecting oils which would otherwise be lost to the manufacturing process. Due to the concentration of workers in the area it was also decided that the work area should be maintained as free of oils as possible to avoid worker injuries. It was also essential that any final oils retained within the lower transmission carrier pallets be removed prior to the pallet and transmission assembly passing through a final stage submerged “leak-test” station before shipment to the final car assembly facilities.
 
THE PROBLEM
 
The cost of transmission oils provides a considerable expense to the plant. A cost savings could be generated with the recovery of these oils for re-use. In addition, oils which spill onto work area floors mandate the use of non-skid type flooring which is expensive and likewise difficult to maintain. The final area where workers must have access to then requires additional house-keeping and also provides an area of exposure to workers who may be injured as a result of a fall attributed to the oils in the area. Finally, the manufacturing process involved a submerged “dip-tank” within which the transmission and pallet would be lowered for leak testing. The quantities of oils which could build up in this station would prevent accurate testing as well as generate a secondary cleanup problem for the plant. Oils lost in leak-test would also require further waste-water treatment before being returned to the normal city water waste stream, also at an expense as well at a risk for non-compliance. Transmission manufacturing lines normally run at high production rates leaving very little time while the pallet is locked in-station for the collection of residual or draining oils. Oil recovery therefore must be fast as well as efficient over a wide area. Pumps cannot cover the thin film build and wide area of oil coverage within the 18 second in-station cycle time available. Any automation being developed which carries the vacuum head into proper orientation likewise diminishes the functionally available vacuum cycle time. The station locations of each of the required processes would be at a considerable distance from a central location thereby increasing the collection capacity and capability of the main system and controls. As an added requirement, manual extensions were requested for the tear-down area so that an additional 5 manual stations could utilize the same main vacuum system. Solution The cost of transmission oils provides a considerable expense to the plant. A cost savings could be generated with the recovery of these oils for re-use. In addition, oils which spill onto work area floors mandate the use of non-skid type flooring which is expensive and likewise difficult to maintain. The final area where workers must have access to then requires additional house-keeping and also provides an area of exposure to workers who may be injured as a result of a fall attributed to the oils in the area. Finally, the manufacturing process involved a submerged “dip-tank” within which the transmission and pallet would be lowered for leak testing. The quantities of oils which could build up in this station would prevent accurate testing as well as generate a secondary cleanup problem for the plant. Oils lost in leak-test would also require further waste-water treatment before being returned to the normal city water waste stream, also at an expense as well at a risk for non-compliance. Transmission manufacturing lines normally run at high production rates leaving very little time while the pallet is locked in-station for the collection of residual or draining oils. Oil recovery therefore must be fast as well as efficient over a wide area. Pumps cannot cover the thin film build and wide area of oil coverage within the 18 second in-station cycle time available. Any automation being developed which carries the vacuum head into proper orientation likewise diminishes the functionally available vacuum cycle time. The station locations of each of the required processes would be at a considerable distance from a central location thereby increasing the collection capacity and capability of the main system and controls. As an added requirement, manual extensions were requested for the tear-down area so that an additional 5 manual stations could utilize the same main vacuum system.
 
SOLUTION
 
TECH-TRANS was contracted to provide the main vacuum oil reclaim system as well as (2) mechanical vacuum heads. In order to handle the extra capacity required of the application, a latest, proven, higher capacity main vacuum collection system was provided. The new system would have the additional capacity to simultaneously collect oils from both automated stations as well as connect to (5) manual remote locations up to 100 feet from the main system location. Additionally, the pipe transfers of the fluids could only be located at the ceiling , so an additional lift at each station of 40 feet was also required. TECH-TRANS provided the stand alone vacuum collection receptacle with a high volume oil collection capability to meet these needs. In addition to the vacuum generation process, a controls development allowed that each station could operate independent of the others , or again, all at once. This station discrimination then optimized the oil collection rates at which ever station was “active”. Our proprietary air flow and fluid separation process was further refined and incorporated in the internal design of the system and expanded the use of in-line filtration access and enhanced vapor separation capability. Within the system there is also an automated dump sequence which allows the vacuum generator to continue collecting oils while at the same time capable of discharging oils previously collected. This way, the vacuum collection process continues un-interrupted.
TECH-TRANS also supplied the (2) final “contact” tooling heads which engages the pallet area where oils collect for the optimized high speed recovery of these oils. Each head was proto-typed and then cast as a final tool with mating flanges which allowed attachment as end of arm tooling to the automation provided at each station. Mechanical check balls were also added as an option to this process. “Bullet-Traps” were also provided at each station to collect the course debris typically found in this type environment.
 
BENEFITS
 
HIGH SPEED, MULTI--STATION OIL COLLECTION / OPTIMIZED RECOVERY REDUCED: OIL CONSUMPTION, HOUSEKEEPING, WASTE WATER TREATMENT IMPROVED WORKER SAFETY - ENVIRONMENT
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