The automotive industry has come a long way since Henry Ford first installed a forged rivetless conveyor way back in 1919. With new products and new assembly processes, the automotive industry is constantly advancing. The new and improved Chrysler Sterling Heights Plant (SHAP) has recently upgraded to a fully robotic body shop, world-class paint shop, and a new metrology center. One of the largest improvements was the $60 million project featuring a Daifuku Webb friction drive conveyor system. Instead of using chain conveyor to pull the automotive bodies through the eight mile long paint shop, the plant made an innovative decision to install miles of friction drive conveyor. Friction drive conveyor utilizes a drive wheel that comes in contact with a load bar to move loads on a carrier. Inverted friction drive system is being used in the body paint process, as well as for delivery of car bodies between the paint shop and general assembly system. The friction drive conveyor has many benefits including:
- quieter and cleaner than chain conveyors
- easily maintained
- increased flexibility
- ability to reverse
Friction drive conveyors are ideal for long distances, but there is also a light-duty option that is capable of moving loads up to 500 lbs and a heavy-duty that can move loads up to 2500 lbs! The automotive industry is undeniably changing and SHAP is definitely setting the curve.