February 11 - Heavy lifting and plant relocation specialist, Vanguard, recently expanded its expertise in the automotive industry by managing the offloading, rigging, mechanical and electrical installation, and commissioning of a fully automated press lin

The line will be utilised to produce body components such as bonnets, doors, fenders, roofs and body sides for Ford SA . The line consists of a 1,600-tonne press and three 800-tonne presses. "The heaviest components - a 155-tonne crown, three 120-tonne crowns and eight components in excess of 80 tonnes - were offloaded in the laydown area using a 400-tonne hydraulic gantry, placed on a SPMT and moved inside the building under a 600-tonne gantry system," explains Andrew Nordengen , director, Vanguard .

This gantry system was set up over a pit some 13 m wide, six metre deep and 120 m long. "Due to the excessive pit length, we made use of the existing suspended floor, utilising a 100 mm, ten ton solid steel floor deck, which we supported with a 400-tonne four poster gantry system and a 60-tonne four poster gantry system," explains Nordengen. This adjustment enabled the company to drive the loaded SPMT, with a total weight of 185 tonnes, onto the suspended floor and offload the equipment directly in front of the first press using the 600-tonne gantries, which ensured minimal travelling distance, as well as the equipment's correct alignment with the foundations.

Vanguard also manufactured a specialised 1.9 m steel spacer for its 600-tonne gantries to compensate for the fact that the presses were off centre in the press pit and the company could thus not utilise the fourth 
stage of the gantry due to the weight capacity restrictions on each leg. In addition, custom-designed 70-tonne slings were manufactured and assisted in circumventing a 12 m roof clearance limit by keeping the distance between the top of the 155-tonne crown and the underside of the header beams to less than 300 mm.

"Because the delivery of the crowns took longer due to their abnormal load, we assembled all of the presses up to their sides prior to the crowns' arrival in order to ensure on-time project completion," says Nordengen. This, however, meant that all the crowns had to be lifted over the sides at a height of seven metres, and - with the largest press furthest away - the 155-tonne crown had to be lifted over all three 800-tonne presses before being placed into position.

The company's efforts have already help it to secure another two contracts on the same line - one involving the installation of robots to transfer the material from press to press, and the other relating to a new line that will assemble components onto the vehicle doors, bonnets and boots.

MA Automotive contracted Vanguard to manage the offloading, rigging, mechanical and electrical installation, and commissioning of a fully automated press line at its Rosslyn plant.