Assembly lines have come a long way since Henry Ford introduced the Model T. Each step has become more automated and efficient – requiring less human capital and providing a smaller margin of error.
An automobile transmission manufacturing plant in Indiana is equipped with several robots hidden in an enclosure. Each robot drills various channels into aluminum in order to create the transmissions for the cars.
Each time a channel is drilled, scrap metal falls to the ground. The plant needed a product that had openings for the metal scraps to fall through onto the conveyor belt allowing the conveyor belt to carry the scrap metal away to be recycled. The product needed to be strong enough to hold the robots yet light enough for the factory workers to safely lift when maintenance had to be done on the conveyor belt. After comparing several different products and companies, Fibergrate® fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) molded grating was chosen.
The 1” deep x 1-1/2” square mesh Corvex molded grating was installed in a dark gray color. Due to the oily conditions in automobile manufacturing plants, a grit top finish was chosen for increased slip resistance. In addition to the molded grating used on the platforms, Fibertred® molded stair treads were used on the stairway leading to the robots.
Using FRP was an easy choice over traditional materials in this application due to several key factors and benefits. The lightweight of the product made it made it easy to install and allows for periodical maintenance on the machinery below the grating. The large openings allow the scraps to easily fall through the grating onto the conveyor belt below. The long term slip resistance was especially important in this application because the slick, oil conditions that are typical for an automotive plant put the workers in danger of slipping and getting hurt. The ergonomic features of FRP molded grating allow for a more comfortable walking surface – also allowing for fewer overuse injuries.
Fibergrate was chosen because of the unmatched services provided and the products’ performance history. Our local sales manager worked with the automotive manufacturer and the Fibergrate team to find the right solution for this application.
Henry Ford said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Ford was able to look beyond the traditional solution used for transportation and built a revolutionary manufacturing process that allowed the common man to afford an automobile. In order to move forward in innovation, you must be willing to do something differently. Although metal, concrete, and wood products might be traditional, there a different option may work better. FRP products can be the solution to your manufacturing needs, allowing your facility to become more efficient and effective.