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Elevated workstations streamline production.


To build a Boeing Dreamliner 787, employees need to get airborne. At a recently constructed 800,000-square-foot aircraft manufacturing plant in North Charleston, S.C., a multifaceted work platform system moves the fuselage along a production line while allowing employees access to all parts of the plane.

The system includes a series of three work platforms approximately 600 feet long by 22 feet wide that run parallel to one another. Two fuselage production lines run between the platforms. The work platforms provide the ability to have workers on each side of the fuselages as they join sections, pre-wire, install seat tracks, complete wing box connections and perform additional prep work.

Work platforms were designed to fit around a specially designed guided vehicle system that was installed in the plant floor to accommodate the fuselages. The guided vehicle system moves the fuselages automatically through the production line.

In addition to the work platforms, Boeing installed 14 movable workstation bridges that move along with the fuselage. The bridges rest within an independent track system that runs parallel to the work platforms and production line. Each bridge is equipped with wheels and motors and each is controlled independently with operator joysticks. The bridges roll down the production line as needed while the fuselages move through the production process.

The supplier also designed a lifting system that moves the bridges back to the start of the production line. When a bridge reaches the end of the line, the lift mechanism raises the bridge off the track and transports it back to the front end.

The system also includes two arched bridges that span between the work platforms. Essentially, these bridges form a semi-circle over the top of the fuselage and provide a safe way for workers to access the topside of the fuselage as well as climb from platform to platform.

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Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Date:Oct 2, 2009
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