Case Studies

Trimas Corporation 2013

Case Study

When the operational and reliability issues with their existing conveyor system became too great, TriMas Corporation, one of the most trusted names in automotive towing equipment, commissioned Custom Automation Australia to undertake an analysis of their existing process and submit a feasibility study, looking at ways to eliminate those problems and improve the efficiency of the production process.

Custom Automation, ISO 9001 Quality company, in turn discussed these issues with TriMas and designed a Power & Free (P&F) conveyor system to meet the current volume demands and with the capability to meet increased future requirements.

For the TriMas Dandenong prodution plant, the proposed P&F conveyor system would be required to transport the towbars through the entire production and finishing process. The chain and trolleys would also be required to be heat-resistant in order to withstand the operating environment to which they were continually subjected.

P&F conveyor is a flexible conveyor method by which the carrier is able to disengage from the main drive chain and re-engage when required. This flexibility allows TriMas towbar carriers to stop and accumulate at predefined points in the process. Other benefits of the P&F are the ability to have multiple load and unload points, travel at multiple speeds, and, if necessary, redirect product.

Once the layout was defined, Custom Automation also presented a real-time production simulation of the system to TriMas to demonstrate that the conveyor was able to meet and exceed the required throughput, and also identify possible congestion areas.

The entire system was required to be manufactured off-site in Broadmeadows at the Custom Automation workshop, and shipped to Dandenong in staged deliveries. This required high-level project management and planning, in order to ensure that each mechanical and electrical part of the system was tested and ready for delivery to allow Custom Automation to keep to its challenging installation schedule, which was dictated by TriMas and its production schedule.

TriMas engineering director Andrew Buttigieg said: “The system was successfully installed and commissioned over a compressed four-week shut-down period, which included the decommissioning and removal of the existing conveyor system. This was not negotiable. There was immense pressure for Custom Automation to deliver the project on time and on budget, and its team came through with flying colours.”

TriMas also handed Custom Automation the additional challenge of having to install the new system around the existing process equipment, which required precision in handling and placement of the huge support beams and track to not cause damage.

“It was vital that the system be installed around our existing process equipment, in order to be able to restart production ASAP at the closure of the four-week shutdown window,” said Mr Buttigieg.

The system is totally PLC controlled with operator control centres at the Load and Unload areas. Carrier identification also provided TriMas with a means of product tracking throughout the system.

The success of this project has become the foundation of a strong relationship between TriMas Corporation and Custom Automation, and has lead to Custom Automation being selected for expansion works beyond the initial project.

Custom Automation has provided large-scale conveyor systems and other automated material handling solutions for some of our regions largest manufacturing operations, Toyota Austalia, Ford Motor Company, Orica, Bovis Lend Lease, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to name just a few.

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