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The key to smooth Aircraft Assembly

How Are Omnitrack Ball Units Used in Aircraft Assembly?

Omnitrack invented the heavy-duty range of ball transfer units in 1954. The patented “endless track” design allows heavy loads to be conveyed smoothly and precisely at any angle. The aircraft industry has relied on Omnitrack ball units ever since, enabling smooth aircraft assembly.

Ball units are used in the manufacturing processes and testing procedures of aircraft assembly — covering landing gears, fuselage, wing installation and many others. From their involvement in the production of the Comet in 1958 to the Eurofighter Typhoon in 1990 and — most recently — the Airbus Group and Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2017, Omnitrack has been the first choice for ball units due to their consistently high performance.

Omnitrack Aircraft Industry Case Studies

Omnitrack 9241 ball transfer units featured in the production of the Eurofighter Typhoon in 1990. Eurofighter is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft offering agile performance, interoperability and unrivalled flexibility. Omnitrack ball units are an integral element of the aircraft’s design. 

In 2009, Omitrack 9445 and 0454 ball units were used in the CERN “Hadron” collider particle research project. At CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the world’s largest and most complex scientific equipment is used to investigate the fundamental structure of the universe. CERN chose Omnitrack ball units for their ability to perform to the highest standards under high temperatures. 

Most recently, our 9840 units were used in the extensive testing of the landing gears in the new 787 Dreamliner. The designers needed to create a testing rig that could withstand the impact of 98 tons for over 100,000 cycles that they could reposition between tests. Unlike static tests — which push the aeroplane to extreme loads — the rig system allows for fatigue testing, which demonstrates the integrity of the landing gear in resisting the daily stresses.  One can just imagine the challenging conditions our ball units face and overcome!

Managing Director  of Omnitrack, John Cabrini-Dale said,

“I feel extremely proud that our units are a key part of the aircraft industry’s technological advancements and that we will always rise to the next challenge this industry presents, pushing our engineering forward.”

Why Are Omnitrack Ball Units the First Choice for Smooth Aircraft Assembly?

We asked John Cabrini-Dale why Omnitrack units play such a vital role in today’s aircraft assembly. He outlined four key reasons why the industry specifies Omnitrack units:

“First, is the highest load capacity possible – the largest of our units being able to support and move 4550 Kg [10,000 lbs] each.

Second, is the ability to use our units at any angle of orientation without any loss in load-bearing capacity or quality of movement, thanks to our patented “endless track” internal system.

The third is the “frictionless” movement our units can provide allowing heavy loads to be manoeuvred with supreme accuracy and minimal force.

Fourth is the high resistance to shock loads and extreme temperatures, allowing the units to be used in arduous conditions that traditional ‘hemispherical cup’ ball units would suffer in.

In the case of the Airbus project, our 9352 Omnitrack Ball Units are used in the final, delicate positioning of the wing’s terminal pins & fittings as they are inserted into large castings attached to structures on the fuselage. This allows the wings to be attached to the sub-section by thousands of bolts which, thanks to the precise movement of our ball units, can be aligned perfectly which is vital for the rapid & therefore cost-effective assembly of the aircraft.”

The Key to Smooth Aircraft Assembly

Omnitrack will remain at the forefront of the omnidirectional movement industry as we continuously strive to find new solutions for our clients. Our products have evolved over 100 years and we are always excited to work on custom designs to meet specific needs. We are proud of our reputation in the aircraft industry. Omnitrack ball units are the first choice for smooth aircraft assembly processes due to their high load capacity, “frictionless” movement, high resistance to shock loads and high temperatures, and the ability to use our units at any angle of orientation without any loss in load-bearing capacity or quality of movement. 

We look forward to our next aircraft assembly product and the challenges it presents! 

If you have an assembly requirement and need help specifying the best movement solution, instant message our team on Live Chat and request a call to discuss your needs. 

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I only need a couple of units for a private project of mine – Is there a minimum quantity that I must order?

No – and we want to keep it that way.

At Omnitrack we do not believe in minimum order or minimum value charges and can deliver as few or as many units as you require directly to your door. Most of our Ball Transfer Units and Movement Solutions can be despatched immediately from stock, offering you expedient delivery to over 52 countries worldwide. Our manufacturing facilities also allow us to quickly produce bespoke alterations of our standard range to suit your specific needs where necessary.

If you would like to receive a quote or require free technical advice for a private project, please send your details to info@omnitrack.co.uk or instant message our Technical Support Team using our Livechat feature on our website.

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I have an application that your standard units don’t fit into – What can I do?

A better question to ask would be, ‘What can we do?’

As we are a family owned and run UK manufacturer of Ball Transfer Units and Movement Solutions, we may be able to design and produce one-off ‘special’ units to cater for your specific requirements. From bespoke housing design to particular material choices, our Technical Support Team will be able to offer you our best advice and help engineer an expedient solution to your application.

If you would like Free Technical Assistance regarding ‘specials’ production and what we may be able to offer you, please send your details to info@omnitrack.co.uk or contact our Technical Support Team directly using our Livechat feature on our website.

We look forward to hearing from you soon

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What does ‘Shock Loading’ mean?

Whatever the nature of your business, you’ll be keen to avoid unnecessary damage, expense and dips in productivity. Shock loading can result in damaged equipment, diminished performance and costly replacements. If you’re working with ball transfer units, it’s important to understand what shock loading is, how it can impact operations and, most importantly, how you can reduce the risk and degree of damage.

What Is Shock Loading?

Shock loading refers to a sudden and drastic increase of load, similar to a “hammering” effect. The most common occurrence is when a load is dropped onto a ball transfer unit from a height or when ball units travel over an uneven surface, causing an uneven distribution of load. 

Why Do You Need to Consider Shock Loading?

When shock loading occurs, although the load itself may be within the load-bearing capabilities of the ball units, the forces generated by the shock loading can momentarily increase the load beyond the ratings listed in our catalogue and on our website. This can damage certain units and permanently affect their performance and durability.

It’s a good idea to regularly check your equipment to ensure that shock loading damage has not occurred. Damaged units may result in reduced performance and unsafe working conditions.

How Can I Avoid Shock Loading?

There are a few simple steps you can take to minimise the risk of shock loading occurring. Firstly, make sure you have selected the correct type of ball unit for the tasks being performed. It is possible to calculate shock loads by taking into account the weight of the load being transported, the falling distance and the load capacity of the ball unit. It’s vital to ensure that the ball unit you are using can withstand the potential degree of accidental shock. 

Training is often overlooked as a preventative measure for shock loading. Ensure that your staff can access all relevant information about the equipment they are using and that they are sufficiently trained to understand the risks and consequences of shock loading. Putting systems and processes in place to reduce the risk of accidental damage is more cost-effective and less time-consuming than repairing or replacing irreparably damaged units.

Omnitrack has solutions for potential and actual shock loading applications. Our spring-loaded and pneumatic models are suitable for a range of applications and help to reduce damage caused by shock impact. These units have been specially designed to handle accidental shock loading better than conventional hemispherical “cup and ball” units.

For applications where shock loading is a likely concern, we recommend using our spring-loaded or pneumatic range of ball transfer units, which are available with several material upgrade options to satisfy the most demanding operating environments and conditions.

What Does Shock Loading Mean for Your Business?

Accidental shock loading may be impossible to avoid completely, but taking steps to minimise risk and damage for when it does occur could save your business time and money. If an important piece of equipment is out of action for any period, productivity will be affected, which, in turn, could have a detrimental effect on output and levels of customer satisfaction. Take care to select the most suitable ball unit for your intended application. Then, assess the risk of shock loading and put training and processes in place to minimise risk. 

Do you have further questions about minimising shock loading and choosing the correct units for your business? Has your equipment been irreparably damaged and you need more heavy-duty replacements? Check out our range of spring-loaded and pneumatic models or contact us to request a call to discuss your needs. All Omnitrack products come with a two-year warranty.