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Case Study: Custom Screw Jack System For Semi-Conductor Manufacturer

Case Study: Custom Screw Jack System For Semi-Conductor Manufacturer

By Kelston Actuation | Nov 28 2022 12:00AM | Screw Jacks, Actuation

Kelston Actuation solves actuation problems for businesses operating in a range of industries and sectors.

In a new series of case studies, we provide examples of how we have approached previous challenges.

Customer names are withheld for privacy reasons, however, the following case studies provide examples of our processes and capabilities.

The Challenge

A UK-based company working in the semi-conductor market came to us with a brief for a bespoke actuation system. During the assembly of their products, each unit needed to go through regular testing and quality checks. To do this, the component would need to dock into a mobile testing rig.

The problem they had, however, was that some units differed in height and the rig needed to be elevated or descended for them to dock properly. Whilst that had developed their own system to address the problem, it involved operating three separate manual screw jacks that were adjusted one at a time. The process was time consuming and often lead to inaccuracies.

They were looking for a faster and more reliable way to easily position the rig to dock with their components. Additionally, because they were operating in a clean room environment, the installed system needed to meet certain hygiene criteria.

The Solution

After researching, the customer realised no appropriate off-the-shelf solution existed and something custom would need to be developed. We reviewed their requirements and started to piece together a solution.

Firstly, due to the clean room environment, it was clear that any standard Screw Jack configuration would not work because the lifting screw is often exposed. Whilst a bellow could be attached to seal the screw it would still likely attract dust. So instead we recommended a solution build around our Actuator Jacks because they can be completely sealed. The lifting screw has a plain section that allows a wiper seal to prevent any lubricant from escaping or any debris getting inside. They are the low maintenance, fit and forget option. Also, because of the clean room requirement, all surfaces featured in the application needed to be stainless or zinc plated – or offered with the option for the customer to paint it to their own certification.

Secondly, we looked at how to deliver a mechanism that not only satisfied the actuation requirements but that was easy to operate and maintain. Using their existing system as a template, we conceptualised a pallet style device that utilised four separate Actuator Jacks linked together by two gearboxes , drive shafts and couplings. A key part of the brief was that the system needed to be serviceable from the top because, once installed, access from underneath was difficult. The customer had stated that their old system was difficult to adjust because each jacking point required manual intervention, which meant bending down to reach and adjust it, taking eyes off the docking process in the meantime. To negate this issue, we added a third bevel gearbox into the design which allowed us to integrate a hand powered wheel to drive the whole system from above. This was conveniently placed at a height where the operator could adjust the docking process without looking away.

The core benefit of the system we developed was that an operator could now quickly and easily adjust the height of their testing rig with extreme precision, visibility and control – saving time and hassle and ensuring the integrity of their testing process.

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