Case study: Portakabin

As innovators, Portakabin were looking for new methods of fitting the corner columns to one of their range of modular buildings. The steel columns – some 3m long and weighing almost 100kg -needed fitting at each of the 4 corners and a number of current difficulties needed resolution.

Firstly, the modular building itself is large and the 4 corners where fitting needed to take place were a substantial distance from each other.

Secondly, the parts were delivered in the horizontal in a stillage and needed to be turned to the vertical for fitment. Not only that, but the columns were in handed sets and it was not enough to turn them to the vertical – they also needed further manipulation to accommodate the specific needs at each corner.

Thirdly, the parts were pre-painted and – given their concern for quality – Portakabin could not allow the columns to be scratched during handling.

Portakabin involved Handling Concepts – material handling equipment manufacturers – in the problem; who designed a bespoke version of a Famatec Gingo. The Gingo is a mobile pneumatic manipulator arm with the potential to bring ‘weightless’ handling to a chosen location anywhere within the factory. Working with Portakabin’s engineering team, Handling Concepts designed bespoke tooling with the requisite range of manipulation and having polyurethane faced grippers to avoid surface damage whilst enhancing the grip.

Handling Concepts also advised Portakabin on the optimum design for the delivery stillage to create a complete material handling system enabling all elements to work together toward the required outcome. They also trained the Portakabin team in its use.

Lee Maskill – Portakabin Production Engineering said:
“thought you might appreciate a picture of the manipulator in action. We have completed 12No modules with all the columns fitted using your machine. The manipulator has performed well and the guys are now confident and competent in its use. So well done on producing a great machine…”