Automating the Operation: A case study on Johnson Technology, Inc.
Based in Muskegon, MI, Johnson Technology, Inc., a subsidiary of GE Aviation, is the leading manufacturer of aircraft engines and engine parts; such as: blades, vanes, turbines and hangers for the aerospace and power generation industries. In the late 90’s, Johnson sought SIFCO ASC for their selective plating expertise and solutions for Johnson’s selective plating needs.
A uniform application of SIFCO Process® solution AeroNikl® 250 Sulfamate Nickel is needed on the irregular-shaped face of the turbine castings in order to improve the brazing process. Due to the environmental health and safety issues and ergonomic risks, Johnson wanted to remove the chemicals and plating operation from their facility. By outsourcing their plating needs to the experts at SIFCO ASC, this allowed Johnson to focus on their core business objectives, remaining the leading manufacturer in the aerospace and power generation industries.
As with many selective plating applications, plating the casting was a manual process requiring a technician to handle each part individually. Each part takes approximate 7.5 minutes to plate from start to finish. With 48 parts to plate per day, a technician could expect to spend 6 working hours at the workstation each day. Due to the constant movement needed for an effective plating application, technicians were exposed to persistent stress on not only their upper extremities, but their neck, upper and lower back, and lower extremities due to the long hours of standing. Beyond the ergonomic factors, the workstation incorporated no mechanical tool handling to hold the turbine castings.
SIFCO’s solution to the ergonomic risk came in the form of a fully-automated system. Engineers at SIFCO ASC designed a turnkey robotic plating system to perform the functions of the technician.
A robotic arm holds the turbine casting, carefully bringing it to the solution soaked anode, oscillating at the optimum anode-to-cathode speed, rinsing and then continuing the SIFCO Process® until the plating is complete.
TRACKING THE RESULTS
Automating the plating process for Johnson’s turbine castings has proven to be extremely successful. Not only has the ergonomic risk to the technicians been significantly reduced, component plating process time has also been reduced by 50% – increasing the technicians available time.
Additionally, by automating the process using a programmable logic controller, technicians can review data captured through the human-machine interface to determine if the operation was completed within tolerance – effectively improving CPK values. If any errors occur, or quality standards are not met, technicians can review the data and trace the error to its source and assign the appropriate corrective action, preventing the errors being repeated.
To learn more about how the SIFCO Process is helping companies in the aerospace industry like Johnson Technology, Inc, download our whitepaper.