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Overview

Flotron is a leading manufacturer of standard and custom-engineered extractors and holding fixtures for the telecommunications, automotive assembly, electronics, aerospace, and defense industries. Located in Vista, California, Flotron’s manufacturing plant has more than 25,000 square feet of production space. The facility is used to design and produce a large selection of rotational fixtures, and their products allow manufacturers to change the orientation of sensitive parts throughout the soldering and fabrication processes.

Flotron’s production space is divided into several work areas including welding, machining, fabrication, and shipping. Until recently, workers in Flotron’s manufacturing facility used a 5,000-pound capacity cherry picker to hoist parts and transfer products from one section of their plant to another. However, as Flotron began working more extensively with manufacturers in the aerospace industry, they realized they needed a larger system with more control.

That’s when Flotron’s Quality Control Manager, John Donovan, contacted one of Spanco’s third-party distributors, Advanced Industrial Solutions, to inquire about a high capacity material handling solution with enough control to lift and place heavy loads in tight spots. The five-pound capacity system they were using worked fairly well for smaller holding fixtures, however, as the size of their products continued to increase, so did the demand for a more effective material handling solution. This became especially problematic when workers needed to stack large rotational fixtures on palettes and then place them on the back of semi-trailers for transportation. Not only did their old system limit their lift power, it also lacked the control and efficiency to place large products in a precise and time effective manner. After analyzing their needs, Advanced Industrial Solutions partnered with Spanco to provide the best system possible.

Solution

Flotron purchased a 10-ton PF Series Gantry Crane from Spanco with added customizations to meet their unique requirements. In addition to increased capacity, the manufacturing facility needed the system to be portable. A standard motorized gantry crane is forward and reverse motion only, and the facility needed to maneuver the gantry from one work area to another. To accommodate their needs, Spanco included 12-inch diameter Nylacron™ wheels with heavy-duty bearings and four-position swivel locks, ultimately enabling Flotron to move the non-motorized gantry under load with minimal effort. The system spans 35 feet, with 20 feet under the beam, which also enables workers to move fixtures that are unusually long, even in tight spaces.

Impact

According to John, the Spanco PF Series Gantry Crane has helped them to produce, transfer, and ship fixtures exceeding 10,000 pounds and up to 50 feet in length. Flotron recently manufactured the fixture used to assemble the mirrors on the new James Web telescope, which will eventually replace the Hubble telescope. Workers had to transfer the 11,000-pound, 40-foot long fixture to an oversized palette, before moving it to the back of a semi-truck for shipping. Using the new gantry crane from Spanco, they were not only able to lift and transfer the fixture with ease; they were also able to place it on the back of the truck within 1/16th of an inch from the edge. According to John, “The truck driver was extremely pleased, I don’t think he had ever seen anything like it.”

Since purchasing the PF Series Gantry Crane from Spanco, Flotron has seen a major increase in efficiency, production, and overall safety. Their new crane provides total coverage in their facility, when needed, without sacrificing flexibility and control. This not only improves material flow in their production process, it also enables workers to easily transfer massive loads with precision and accuracy.