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AIC Loading Systems

AIC design and manufacture custom Loading Systems for Autoclaves, Ovens, Presses and other equipment encompassing a wide variety of solutions dependent upon many varied factors. AIC’s approach is to fully understand your processes in order that we can design the optimal turnkey solution.

At the heart of any system design should be an extensive understanding of the tooling and also the thermal process to be applied to both the part and the tooling or mould.

In Autoclaves the tooling will be designed in order to achieve the required form on the produced component part. The tooling must withstand both the mechanical loads imposed by the vacuum and pressure cycle, in addition to thermally imposed loads.

Tooling must be positioned on the tool trolley or stillage in such a way that it is optimised to ensure the best airflow over the part surfaces is achieved. This will ensure that maximum heat transfer coefficients are realised and therefore cycle times can be reduced to the minimum possible resulting in increased productivity and lower energy costs. The tool positions, geometry and mass distributions will in turn dictate the design of the trolley surface and the structure beneath.

The tool trolley must accomplish the optimum layout of the tools whilst ensuring that airflow and heat transfer are optimised. The trolley will be designed and stressed in order to provide adequate structural strength in all areas of the structure. Over engineered tooling will result in excessive weight of steel and a parasitic thermal load within the equipment. This in turn will result in sub-optimal cycle times and also increased energy demands throughout the life of the equipment so AIC engineers design solutions with structural strength with minimal mass. The trolley must also be designed so that they are ergonomic and that health and safety requirements are met. Ease of connection of vacuum and thermocouple fittings is required in order for safe operation of the system with minimum downtime and these can be built into the stillages themselves.

When the requirements for the tooling and trolleys are fully defined, the transport route and methods can be finalised. These will vary considerably depending on the size and mass of the load and also the requirements for positional accuracy. This in turn may result in simple solutions such as a manually pushed trolley on steel wheels or a complex automated solution such as an AGV. Between these extremes are a variety of semi-manual systems using tugs or purpose built loading machines. These may be guided manually, mechanically using guides or rails or fully automatically using optical sensors.

In order to achieve an efficient and safe solution for a loading system, it is essential that the designer has considerable experience and skills in these areas. A well designed loading system should ensure a favourable financial recovery throughout the operating life of the equipment.

To find out more about AIC’s Comprehensive Loading Systems contact AIC