Printer Friendly Version

Overview

For nearly 60 years, the Coupling Corporation of America has been making shaft couplings and keyless hubs for power plants, refineries, and large process plants. Their products are manufactured for applications like high-speed pumps, gas turbines, centrifugal compressors, aircraft applications, motor drives, auxiliary drive turbines, feed rollers, marine applications, high thermal growth equipment, and API 671 applications.

Over the past few years, Coupling Corporation continued to expand, creating new products like their UltraFlexx Shaft Coupling, which provides the lowest spring rates in the industry and ensures longer lifetime and outstanding performance. Their couplings are used in some of the most critical and demanding operations—making accuracy and precision in manufacturing an essential part of their process. To accommodate for their new growth, the Coupling Corporation decided to move its manufacturing plant to a 60 thousand-square-foot factory in Jacobus, PA. The new plant has given them the space they need to continue manufacturing their products, develop new products, balance and test their couplings and keyless hubs, and ship finished products to customers all over the United States. 

As part of their expansion process, workers began to see a need for a more effective material handling system for several of their work areas. In the past, workers used tow motors to move raw materials and finished products that can be very heavy. The tow motors were becoming very cumbersome, creating space issues, causing additional obstructions on the ground; they were unsafe, ineffective, and required bumpers to protect both the tow motor itself and the machining equipment around it. In order to use them correctly, Coupling Corporation had to hire experienced fork truck drivers to get into machines and move materials. As demand for their products increased, workers were beginning to realize that their old material handling strategy had become costly, impractical, ineffective, and dangerous.

Solution

That’s when American Coupling Corporation Production Manager Scott Smith reached out to a local Spanco dealer to inquire about a better material handling solution that would meet their specific needs. After some investigation, the facility installed several Spanco Freestanding Workstation Bridge Cranes to provide more control over their manufacturing process.  Now, single workers can manipulate heavy loads from one work area to another with precision and accuracy. These 4000-pound capacity bridge cranes are interconnected to create one fluid system that provides precise movement and unlimited coverage.  The crane has runways as long as 99 feet, with a 34-foot bridge. The nearly 100-foot long runway travels throughout most of their factory and allows for much better use of space.

The crane is used in multiple ways to benefit more than one station in the production process. Workers now use the crane to take raw materials and move them to machining centers where they are unloaded and shaped, molded, etc. The workers are also able to use them in their testing areas. Here, they load their products into torque testers to do dynamic balancing. They also use the crane to load products into boxes. According to Smith, his workers use the overhead crane from the raw materials stage all the way to the shipping phase. They’ve been really impressed with how flexible the system is in every part of their factory, and how easy it is to operate.

Impact

Compared to their previous material handling solution, the workstation bridge crane has eliminated their list of concerns. Using the tow motors, forks would bleed on and off, they created massive space issues, required bumpers for protection, and workers had to be experienced to use the equipment. The crane provides much better positioning, and it allows less qualified operators to move products. This is a huge cost benefit and very advantageous when hiring employees to complete multiple jobs.

Overall, the crane has increased productivity, provided cheaper manufacturing costs, required less space, allowed for better use of space, and made machine maintenance much easier.  Operators at Coupling Corporation are extremely impressed with how easily the trolley and bridge move, and how simple their material handling system has become since the installation of a Spanco Bridge Crane. American Coupling Corporation has retired their fleet of tow motors, and relies solely on the overhead crane for all of their heavy lifting.

According to Production manager Scott Smith, “I think Spanco looked at what our needs were and designed and developed something around those needs. So, they were very flexible and willing to create exactly what we needed. We have a unique application here of different poles and what not, so they looked at what our needs were and listened to what we needed, and then designed a system that works perfectly for us. The ease of use and the functionality of their freestanding workstation bridge crane is extremely impressive. That’s important in a machining application environment. There are a lot of things you have to work around and do, and sometimes you have to accept what’s available rather than something special, but they came up with what we needed here, and made it happen for the right price and with the best possible customer service. We couldn’t be more pleased with the end result.”