Marking Altrad Sparrows’ first automotive contract, we were called to a vehicle manufacturing facility in Canton, Mississippi, to recommend and supply an automated lubrication system for the plant’s robotic production lines.
The client was shutting down the production line every three months to lubricate the bearings and slides. But, with the plant producing around 60,000 vehicles over that period, the constantly moving slides on the production line were wearing out every two weeks.
Guidance from the equipment manufacturer dictated that lubrication of the bearings and slides needed to occur every 20 minutes to ensure smooth operation of the system. However, using the plant’s current manual methods, lubrication at this frequency was virtually impossible.
Altrad Sparrows was tasked with recommending and supplying a long-lasting lubrication system that would suit the plant’s needs. Deciding between two trusted manufacturers, the team suggested an SKF Lincoln lubrication system.
The primary reason was the ease of repair. Should a pump in the system fail, the internal pump of that system alone could be replaced relatively inexpensively in five minutes, compared with two hours and the associated cost of replacing the entire unit. Requiring fewer spare parts and incorporating an alarm that goes back to Operator-level were also factors in recommending the system to the client.
Given the facts and benefits, the client chose to proceed with the SKF system. Though we can install lubrication systems, the client decided to install the system themselves. Therefore, we provided a ready-to-install system comprising all the required lines, fittings, hoses and tubing, and the offer of support should the client need it.
During discussions with the client before installation, it became clear that the client wished to install only one automated lubricating unit for both slides. After listening to their reasoning, our team used its collective expertise to reassure the client that two units would provide them with the best solution, which they accepted.
Twelve units have now been installed at the plant, with the potential to install up to 60 in total. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the installation of the subsequent units had to be put on hold, but we look forward to working with the client again soon, once restrictions are lifted.