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Shuttleworth has extensive experience in light to medium-weight automotive assembly and components manufacturing. We have designed, manufactured, and installed hundreds of gentle handling solutions for automotive parts applications. We understand the unique, ever-changing challenges of the automotive industry and are here to help.

The automotive industry requires an array of equipment to meet your material handling needs. Conveyor technologies for the automotive industry are designed to provide innovative, efficient, and reliable products. The Heavy Duty conveyor provides automotive products with dependable and safe processing. Shuttleworth provides devices and special options for the manufacturing and production of the automotive industry.

From efficiency in your manufacturing process to its accuracy, Shuttleworth can design a system to keep your automotive products safe and secure. A variety of roller surfaces are also available from Shuttleworth to increase efficiency in moving your products through the line. With over 70 different roller materials developed, Shuttleworth specializes in conveying automotive parts in harsh environments.

Shuttleworth offers the Slip-Torque® low line pressure, in-line accumulating conveyor for a variety of applications in the manufacturing process. Shuttleworth automotive conveyor systems can convey green parts prior to the sintering process where the product is very fragile and susceptible to damage. After sintering, the parts can be conveyed and accumulated prior to in-house secondary operations. Then an operator can load and unload the process equipment. After the final QC inspection station, the parts can be accumulated for either a manual or robotic packaging operation. Shuttleworth specializes in a variety of automated conveyor systems including:

  • Inline Accumulation
  • Mass Accumulation
  • Product Sortation

Contact Shuttleworth today to learn more about our Automotive Product Handling Systems.


Shuttleworth Pro Mach, Inc.

Case Study #1

Ford Electronics Manufacturing Corporation - Automotive Conveyor Case Study

Markham, Ontario Plant

Project Overview:

Customer manufactures multiple types of electronic modules that need to bulk-packed by type for shipment to automobile assembly plants.

Electronic modules are not made in a particular order and go through test/rework before reaching packaging area - varying quantities and mixes of product arrive at any given time.

Customer has designated pack quantities needed by module type - none of a given type are packed until the pack quantity is reached to eliminate mistakes made when modules are taken offline to await proper pack quantities.

Customer Objectives:

  • Sort modules by type as they enter the bulk packaging area (maximum of 8 products per minute with zero errors.)
  • Accumulate modules by type until the pack quantity is reached - this may take hours or days depending on manufacturing/test/rework cycles.
  • Release proper pack quantity to the appropriate packing station.
  • Modules must be protected from electrostatic discharge (ESD).
  • Conveyor must use floorspace efficiently.
  • Conveyor must not exceed customer noise level standard.


Shuttleworth Solution:

  • Use a standard size tote (3.5" wide x 9.5" long x 3" high) for all electronic module types - modules on placed on side in tote to minimize conveyor lane widths and ultimately saving plant floorspace.
  • Module bar codes are read to determine type and a horizontal transfer device (operating much like a swinger) deposits the tote in the proper lane of a multiple lane, ESD-protected Slip-Torque conveyor.
  • The modules accumulate by type in the appropriate lane until the proper pack quantity for that type is reached - operator can then call for pack quantity of that type to be released for packing.
  • Empty module totes are returned to the beginning of the line on a simultaneously bi-directional lane on the same conveyor bed, again saving floor space and improving efficiency.


Key Customer Selling Points:

  • Multiple type and sizes of products efficiently handled with a small, one-size tote allowing multiple lane accumulation in a minimum amount of floorspace.
  • All modules remain in the system until a proper pack quantity for a given type is reached - mistakes made by taking modules offline to await pack quantities are eliminated because the computer keeps track, not the packers.
  • Customer was very impressed by ability to return empty tote to beginning of line on the same conveyor.

Case Study #2

Ford Motor Company Engine Assembly - Automotive Conveyor Case Study

Windsor, Ontario Plant

Project Overview:

Customer plant assembles truck engine cylinder heads (V-8 and, in the future, V-10.)

Cylinder head components arrive on the assembly line from the subcontract manufacturer packed in reusable trays weighing no more than 30 lbs. (each type of component has its own tray (valves, etc.)

Plant has two main cylinder assembly lines utilizing heavy-duty conveyors and each line has seven automated assembly stations needing to be continuously fed.

Customer Objectives:

1. Queue trays of component parts, indexing and precisely positioning the lead tray for interface with a pick-and-place machine.
2. 20-minute tray queue required to enable one operator to service all fourteen spurs on both assembly lines (operator loads trays into queue and removes accumulated empty trays.
3. Flexibility to present components as needed to pick-and-place machinery either the V-8 or V-10 engines.
4. 100% equipment reliability and repeatability of precise positioning ( .002"). Pick-and-place equipment to be two-position only.
5. Equipment must complement ergonomic standards for operator (lift height and weight) and meet safety requirements.
6. Equipment must meet Ford electrical and mechanical specifications.

Shuttleworth Solution:

1. Use a standard size, two-way tote with three pin positioning indentations to receive and convey all components. Totes presented lengthwise to pick-and-place equipment present enough parts for one V-8 engine. Totes presented widthwise present enough parts for a V-10 engine in the future.
2. The main Shuttleworth conveyor on each spur is a three lane conveyor with the outside lanes queuing and feeding full totes to the secondary "shuttle" conveyor and the inside lane returning empty totes. Each outside lane holds a ten minute queue of totes for a total twenty minute queue for each spur. The inside return lane allows empty totes to stack off the conveyor, so queue time on empties is not an issue.
3. Folding, quick-adjust two-position guiderails on the outside lanes allow presentation of the tote lengthwise for V-8 engines or widthwise for V-10 engines.
4. The main Shuttleworth conveyor feeds a two-lane bidirectional Shuttleworth conveyor that electromechanically or pneumatically "shuttles" back and forth receiving totes from the outside lanes of the main conveyor.

  • Escapements are used on the outside lanes of the main Shuttleworth conveyor to index totes without a speed change.
  • Shot pins rise through the conveyor surface to lift and position the tote precisely.
  • When one lane of the "shuttle" conveyor is receiving a tote, the tote in the other lane is already positioned for the first pick-and-place action.
  • Because the pick-and-place equipment is only two position, the "shuttle" conveyor is designed to shuttle in small increments so that once the first row of components is picked, the conveyor shuttles to present the next row to the pick-and-place machine.
  • Once a tote is empty, it is already positioned for the bidirectional feature of the shuttle conveyor to activate and move it onto the empty return lane of the main Shuttleworth conveyor


Key Customer Selling Points:

1. Minimizes manpower required - queuing feature allows one operator to load totes and receive empty totes on all fourteen spurs servicing two high volume production lines.
2. The flexibility of presenting the same tote in two orientations allows the spurs to service either the V-8 or V-10 engines without tooling changes.
3. The spurs handle the totes gently so the components do not shake out of place in the tote offering consistent presentation to the pick-and-place machine.
4. The "shuttle" feature on the bidirectional shuttle conveyor allows the installation of a much simpler two-position pick-and-place machine - the conveyor does the positioning.
5. Empty totes are automatically returned to the operator position.
6. The inherent safety of Slip-Torque for operator interface.
7. Extended warranty on non-wearing parts - company was initially concerned because of the relatively fragile appearance of the Slip-Torque conveyor compared to the massive, heavy-duty conveyors to which they are accustomed.

Similar Lines Installed:

1. Ford Motor Company, Romeo, Michigan
2. Ford Motor Company, Cleveland, Ohio
3. Ford Motor Company, Lima, Ohio

Case Study #3

Shuttleworth’s Low Pressure Accumulating System - Automotive Conveyor Case Study

Lower Costs & Improved Quality for GKN Sinter Metals with Low Pressure Accumulation System

Maintaining a competitive edge in today's business environment requires companies to be smart and efficient. As the world's largest full-service supplier of powder metal components, GKN Sinter Metals is a prime example. Powder metal components offer significant advantages over their die-cast predecessors - specifically, greater dimensional accuracy, higher strength, and lower weight at lesser cost. It's no wonder that cars and light trucks produced in North America use an estimated 40 pounds of powder metal parts.

However, producing powder metal parts has its own set of unique challenges. For starters, powdered metal begins as (of course) powder. This powder, with the consistency of confectioners sugar, is squeezed into shape by a compacting press and is passed through a sintering furnace to harden. The key is transporting the part from the press and through the furnace as quickly as possible. Before the part is hardened in the furnace, it is very fragile and susceptible to damage. Such was the case at GKN's Salem, Indiana, plant.

At the Salem plant, GKN manufactures a series of five different parts that go into the transmission clutch plates of 3/4 ton and 1 ton pickups made by the big three motor companies. Prior to using Shuttleworth equipment, pallets of parts were moved manually through a manufacturing cell that included a compacting press, scale, positioning station, robotic drill, furnace and in-process bin.

Doug Dixon, Manufacturing Engineering Manager for GKN lamented over the problems with this old system. "Moving these parts through by hand was very costly, both in terms of labor and product quality," he said. "Each part weighs about three to four pounds. This doesn't sound like much, but by the end of a shift operators were fatigued and would often bump and chip parts and pallets. We knew there had to be a better way." GKN had previously installed one Shuttleworth conveyor system within the Salem plant. "It was natural to discuss this second project with them," said Dixon.

Kim Hildebrand, Regional Sales Manager for Shuttleworth, oversaw the project. "Shuttleworth had installed one system in GKN - a smaller, low-pressure accumulating system that took parts from a heat treating machine and automatically loaded and unloaded the draw furnace. Parts at the end of the system were manually removed. With the second project, the goal was to totally automate the line."

Shuttleworth's exclusive Slip-Torque, roller-based conveyor system was the perfect solution for the job. Shuttleworth's Slip-Torque conveyor uses individually powered roller shafts covered with segmented, loose-fit rollers. Unlike belt conveyors, the rollers beneath the product slip when products accumulate, reducing product damage in handling brittle powder metal parts and ceramic pallets. This is of the utmost importance.

The first step in the system moves product from the compacting press to a scale where the parts are weighed for accuracy. Shuttleworth engineers designed a unique device to raise from beneath the conveyor surface that lifts and weighs the product. Parts that pass the weight test return to the conveyor surface and are transported down line to the positioning station for the robotic pick up. Parts not passing the weight test are pushed off line by another Shuttleworth device.

Once positioned, parts are selected and drilled by the Motoman robot and placed on the pallet. GKN and Shuttleworth engineers fully integrated the conveyor system with the Motoman robot to accomplish the task without operator intervention.

The full ceramic pallets move, three-wide, to the load end of the furnace. After the furnace, pallets progress on the Shuttleworth conveyor to a second Motoman robot positioning station. The second robot picks up the parts from the pallets and places them in a bin. The complete cell runs approximately 200 feet. The gentle nature of the low-pressure accumulating conveyor allows parts and pallets to remain free of damage throughout the entire process. The empty pallets recirculate on the Shuttleworth closed circuit system.

"Loading and unloading the furnace was a challenge faced on this project," said Hildebrand. "The conveyors at the loading and unloading ends of the furnace approach at 90 degree angles. A traditional push mechanism would wear the rollers due to the abrasive characteristics of the ceramic pallets."

Shuttleworth engineers designed a friction-free, lift and transfer mechanism that, projects on demand from beneath and between the rollers to prevent this from being a problem. The rollers on this mechanism run parallel to the furnace conveyor and allow for a smooth and easy transfer of the pallets.

There are several other unique features of the Shuttleworth system. First, like the furnace, the system allows for pallet accumulation three lanes wide on a single conveyor - a sizeable cost savings over using three separate conveyors. Next, the back end of the conveyor system allows for the accumulation of several hundred pallets, to equal the entire load of the furnace. Not only does this reduce wear and damage to pallets in comparison to manually loading and unloading the cell, but it provides a reliable "safety net" for products leaving the furnace in the event of a backlog at the second robot. Finally, the entire conveyor system is modular. Each module features castor bases and quick electrical disconnects for easy access to and maintenance of the furnace and press.

"The Shuttleworth conveyor is the critical component of a completely automated system for building our complex part," said Dixon. "The fact that we can safely move these parts from the press through all of the various stages without an operator is a big deal."

How big of a deal? Although the system has been in place just since the fall of 2001, GKN has benefited from significant quality improvements and reduced labor and inventory costs. "Not only are we seeing fewer damaged parts, but by automating the system, it requires six fewer operators to run the cell. In addition, the Shuttleworth conveyor helps us speed up work in progress and reduces our inventory," Dixon said.

"Overall, the Shuttleworth conveyor allows us to produce a higher quality product for less cost. Our customers like that... we like that. Everybody is happy."

And what about those six operators who used to move everything by hand? "I've talked to them," said Dixon. "They may be the happiest of everybody. They don't miss that part of the job one bit."

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