Ford's Halewood plant near Liverpool is using a Teletruk from famous British construction equipment maker JCB to remove production line robots for maintenance.

Halewood, built in the 1960s to make Ford's Anglia and, later, the Escort, currently builds the Jaguar X-type and Land Rover Freelander 2.

At the plant, a TLT 35D Teletruk fitted with a fork positioner is used to facilitate the removal of a robot in the event of a catastrophic failure. Previously Halewood had to hire in a crane or dismantle robots and repair them in-situ.

As the production line for Freelander 2 is located close to the X-type line in the plant, there previously were several access problems that the Teletruk avoids thanks to its forwards reach, making it ideal for shifting the robots.

Plant management chose the Teletruk because it provides an extending boom with a low pivot design within the required weight range and physical size.

The 35D model at Halewood has a full forward reach of 2.43m, which allows it to lift 2100kg at a 2m forward extension. It can also lift its 3.5t capacity to a height of 4.4m. With no mast obscuring the view, as would be the case on a traditional forklift truck, the JCB vehicle also provides the operator with clear forward vision.

The low pivot on the extending boom allows operators to work under the overhead systems without catching the guarding while it still is capable of reaching over the fence lines to provide a safe slinging point.

"The Teletruk allows Halewood staff to change the robot for a new one and repair the faulty unit offline," said Mark Roberts of local supplier Gunn JCB.

"When it came to providing maintenance access for slinging, a stacker truck with a 'nose picker' was used previously.  As the Teletruk has a hydraulic system using check valves it provides a robust means of fixing a pulley block to the end of the mast to sling equipment from hard-to-reach places."

JCB modified the Teletruk to meet the specific needs of the plant. For instance operators needed to be able to slide the fork carriage sideways from the cabin.

"We advised Halewood to use a sideshifting fork positioner, which gives the operator the ability to move the forks to the left and right as a fixed pair as well as the ability to move the forks closer or wider from a lever on the control bank inside the cab," added Roberts.

 "There are now many practical examples where the Teletruk has been the focal point of a major repair to the assembly lines. It is used daily as part of routine maintenance work and provides the team with a reliable multi-use vehicle."