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'Unique installation' drives Volvo's new assembly process

Supplier: MHE-Demag Australia
03 December, 2014

The Volvo Truck Production factory at Wacol assembles all Mack and Volvo trucks for the Australia/New Zealand market. So when an ongoing efficiency drive led Volvo to in-source the assembly process for its truck axles, a number of new crane systems needed to be installed in the factory.

Where previously assembly had been handled by a local vendor, now Volvo required its own custom setup. That's where Demag Cranes & Components entered the frame.

The challenges

Due to space constraints and the high number of bridge beams required, design solutions had to be tailor made. "Demag worked closely with Volvo to come up with solutions that would suit Volvo's needs, whilst maintaining the integrity of the crane systems," explained Dave Corrigan, Senior Mechanical Engineer at Volvo.

Prior to the commencement of the project Volvo also had timeframe concerns. "The entire project was constrained to an end date that could not be moved, otherwise the entire plant production process would be affected."

The solutions

"Demag provided a design-and-construct service based on Volvo's specification and layout drawings," Corrigan said.

"They installed and commissioned all of the cranes on site which included a range of  systems such as lightweight KBK systems, heavier duty 'Ergo' type twin bridge beam KBK systems and also 1.5T twin hoist gantry systems. Over 20 new hoists and around 200 metres of new KBK track were installed."

In addition to material handling cranes, a bespoke monorail return conveyor system was installed to return assembly trolleys nearly 50 metres to the start of the assembly line at an elevated level in the factory.

"This was quite a complex custom design in terms of the control system and featured a number of interlocks between the control stations," Corrigan said. "The monorail return conveyor was a unique installation due to the interlock requirements between stations."

Major win

"All assembly line hoists and cranes were installed as per the original time plan, with no delay to the project," Corrigan said. "A number of challenges were faced during installation which required Demag to come up with some quick solutions, which they did. Demag also worked well with the other Volvo appointed sub-contractors working on the same project and in the same work area."

Critical contribution

Corrigan said Volvo and the Demag technicians have established a strong working relationship. "The design engineers and the sales team – in particular Greg Parry, their Area Sales Manager – did an excellent job of interpreting our requirements and relaying that to the designers to ensure costings were accurate, and that we ultimately got what we asked for," he said. "They were also able to expedite components from Germany in order to meet our deadlines."