Kidderminster-based machine protection specialist Beakbane has supplied Planet Platforms with around 100 bellows and folding covers for use on adjustable-height platforms used in the assembly of aero engines.

The Beakbane products are used to enclose the telescopic supports of the platforms to prevent lubricating grease coming into contact with the assembly teams or the components.

Planet Platforms is a leader in the design and manufacture of workplace access platforms, with a blue chip client list covering a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. It recently supplied around 20 adjustable-height platforms to a leading UK aerospace company for use in engine assembly. The platforms move up and down to give the assembly teams access to different parts of the engine and are raised and lowered using hydraulic jacks.

The supports for the platform are made of telescopic square section tubes that allow for this motion. Once in position, the platform is secured with a pin placed through the inner and outer tubes.

To allow the inner and outer tubes of the platform supports to slide up and down smoothly they are lubricated with industrial grease. It is, however, important that the assembly teams are protected from this grease – both for their own comfort and safety, and to ensure that there is no contamination of the engine components.

To find the best way to meet this requirement, and with the end customer keen to get the platforms into production as quickly as possible, Planet Platforms turned to Beakbane. Beakbane specialises in developing bespoke products to suit a specific application and not only has in-house manufacturing facilities for polymers, composites and metal fabrications, but also has its own 2D and 3D design department.

To meet Planet’s requirements it devised a square section bellows that encloses the exposed areas of the telescopic supports. The bellows are split so that they can be fitted and replaced in-situ and are held in place by a bracket attached to the adjustable platform. The design allows the bellows to extend and compress as the platform moves up and down, while leaving room for the safety pin to be inserted and removed.

These were produced from neoprene-coated nylon cloth, sewn together with nylon thread, and with a fabricated steel end flange. The materials were chosen so that they would not degrade in contact with the lubricating grease and to be durable in a tough production environment. The bellows were supplied in two designs, with stroke lengths of 1230mm and 700mm.

In addition to the bellows, Beakbane also supplied folding covers for an engine assembly platform that could be split to allow the assembled engine to be removed.

Not only was Planet extremely satisfied with Beakbane’s designs, it was also delighted by its speed of response. The customer was keen to get the platforms into production and Beakbane was able to turn the job round in just two weeks.

Planet Platforms’ production director Toby Pemberton said: “Beakbane quickly understood the problem and came up with a design that met all of our requirements, but more than that, they were able to manufacture and deliver the parts in a timescale that completely surpassed our expectations.”

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