Agricultural
Assembly

CASE STUDY

Case New Holland uses Airfloat to improve how they manufacture grain headers.

THE SITUATION

In 2011, the global CNH brands Case and New Holland decided to begin manufacture of grain (or “draper”) headers for combines. After completing their own proprietary combine header design, CNH engineers were tasked with creating a lean manufacturing facility in Burlington, Iowa.

After reviewing their competitors’ method of moving the combine headers through the line—many used carts with caster wheels and drive motors—CNH determined they needed a more flexible, ergonomic option that was also safe and proactively set the pace of production. They turned to the proven technology of affordable air bearings (or “air casters”).

 

 

THE SOLUTION

Floating Assembly Line
Airfloat engineers created a “floating” assembly line that utilizes custom-designed and custom-built air-caster transporters/upenders that are set to run on a 60 minute takt time to drive production.
"Pac-Man Upenders"
The built-in “Pac-Man” upenders provide the option to rotate each head to the desired angle, up to 105°, allowing workers to more easily access the underside for an ergonomic work environment.
Flexibility
Additionally, the custom Airfloat transporter provides the facility with the flexibility to produce multiple models of combine headers -- ranging from 25 to 45 feet in length, weighing between 7,500 - 11,000 lbs.
Each grandstand section can be moved from one position to another in only 20 minutes. The sections travel along a 40-degree arc and move up to 200 feet.

The Result

With costly drag chain conveyor systems, the whole line moves as one and moving or altering the system is an exhaustive process. Airfloat transporters, however, can move independently for easy minor adjustments or complete relocation at a significantly lower cost.

With the Airfloat air bearing transporter, only 35 pounds of force is required to get the combine headers rolling, as opposed to 135 pounds with casters, making it much easier and safer for workers.

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