Rigid & Lightweight Slide-Column Manipulators
The Slide-Column manipulator combines the best features of a manipulator and a crane.
In fact, the two very different worlds of cranes and manipulators intersect with the Slide Column.
The Slide Column was developed over many years by Givens designers to offer a rigid column with the mobility of a crane. A slide column is a very lightweight lifting device that can travel as far as a crane can: up to 9m in the direction of the bridges and 40m in the direction of the runways.
How Slide Column Manipulators Work
Slide columns are always suspended between 2 bridges. The bridges typically carry exaggerated loads because an offset load (aka a moment load) will cause a downward load on one bridge and an upward load on the other. The bridges have to be very strong, yet lightweight. The Slide Column consists of 2 vertical rails, one fixed one sliding. The sliding rail travels vertically, held aloft by an air cylinder. The end effector hangs from the bottom of the slide column is free to rotate from a bearing block.
The end effector (usually a gripper) is held rigidly upright cannot swing or pivot as it would hanging from a crane. This rigidity is enormously useful:
- When lifting an offset load
- If the load has to be pivoted, causing the center-of-gravity to shift
- If the load has to be inserted into an opening, in the same way as putting a cake into an oven
- If there are multiple loads, each with a different center of gravity
All of these advantages are offered by a manipulator, but a manipulator has a limited reach radius. A slide column is a very lightweight lifting device that can travel as far as a crane can: up to 9m in the direction of the bridges 40m in the direction of the runways.
One of the great advantages of manipulators over cranes is their ability to make a load float without up/down push buttons. This is also possible with the slide column.
In the case of the floating load, the operator simply pulls up down on the handlebars while the load floats. Without the distraction of up-down pushbuttons, an operator’s speed accuracy can be increased.
Slide columns are always suspended between 2 bridges. The bridges typically carry exaggerated loads because an offset load (aka a moment load) will cause a downward load on one bridge an upward load on the other. The bridges have to be very strong, yet lightweight.
In most cases, we use G-rail™ with the Slant Truss reinforcement (patented) with slide column manipulators.
Our SC5 Slide Column has a moment capacity of 5,000 in-lb, measured from the center of the bearing block outward a lift capacity of 300 lb, including the weight of the end effector.
The SC5 is an all-aluminum, very lightweight lifting device, developed to withstand repeated applications of offset loads starts stops. It is normally fitted with up-down pushbuttons, but can be made to work in “float mode” as well.
Slide Column Suspended Between 2 KBK Bridges
In this case, the slide column is suspended between 2 KBK bridges. Note that the bridges cannot be allowed to articulate (or skew) have been “rigidized” via specialized end trucks. The end effector here consists of a set of automated nutrunners that fasten an auto hatch in place. Instead of festooning, cable tracks have been used.
Pictured here are two huge steel slide columns meant to carry a 1000-lb assembly including an engine, radiator, cradle, rotors struts. It is suspended from Unified rail moves up down using a pneumatic hoist.
In this photo, an SC5 Slide Column lifts exhaust systems through an unusually large vertical travel of 1.5m. The slide column travels on a very large G-Rail™ crane. The height-under-bridge is 4m the bridge runway spans are both 9m. Notice the Slant-Trusses on both the bridges the runways. The entire moving assembly is so large that the use of any crane rail type other than G-Rail™ would have rendered the crane too heavy for rapid movement.
A custom, all-steel slide-column manipulator moves rear axle assemblies in this photo. The end effector uses 2 G46 grippers 2 sets of handlebars (one on either side of the end effector).
The Slide Column rides on 2 G-Rail™ bridges, reinforced with the ultra-lightweight Slant Truss.
Slide Column Manipulators for Heavy Loads
With a normal crane, when any tractor drive is activated, the hoist chain immediately begins to swing. When motion stops, the load continues to swing, making placing of the load very difficult.
Our first Slide Column was made specifically to address a very real problem with a crane carrying engines at a major auto assembler. The swinging of the chain the load made it impossible to keep up with production.
When we installed a slide column to lift engines, very similar to the one pictured, the swinging stopped production increased dramatically. After roughly 13 years, our slide column is still lifting engines meeting production.
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