PFlow Provides Steady Travel for Lockheed Martin Missile Plant
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control develops, manufactures and supports advanced weapon systems. Lockheed Martin’s customers include the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; and foreign nations approved by the U.S. State Department.
Lockheed Martin’s Pike County Operations in Alabama has conducted final assembly, testing operations and storage of anti-armor missiles such as the helicopter-launched Hellfire II, the shoulder-fired Javelin, and the radar-guided Longbow Hellfire.
Pike County, Alabama
Missile Manufacturing Plant
- F Series Platform
- Transports Loads up to 6,500 lbs
- 14’ Travel
- 4’ FPM Travel Speed
The facility also assembled the Patriot air defense missile and the medium-range air-to-ground AGM-142 missile used during Desert Storm. In August 1999, Pike County Operations started performing final missile assembly and testing of Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM). JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground precision missile designed to destroy well-defended, high-value targets.
Plant equipment includes a master computer that manages and coordinates energy use, temperature and humidity conditions, fire detection and security. A special system automatically warns of approaching storms with potential lightning strikes. Digital communications support administrative and internal security while providing instantaneous access to state and local emergency agencies. The facility also includes automated assembly lines that virtually eliminate manual missile handling.
In preparing for the JASSM missile project, Michael P. Goeb, director of major projects for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Controls, had to determine the best method to move missiles out of the production area and into a testing chamber.
Goeb and his team then began to design a more cost-effective, practical and safer solution.
Working with PFlow engineers, Lockheed Martin developed a new concept to move the missiles. Safety was a primary design objective-given the sensitive nature of the product that was being transported. A specialized platform was designed to move a missile horizontally into the chamber and then vertically to the designated test station. The final concept required approximately four months to develop.
Lockheed Martin requirements meant that the system had to be stable, safe and capable of accurately positioning the missile for critical testing procedures. In addition, the platform had to accommodate repetitive points of loading and unloading with fractions of an inch variation. Vertical and horizontal control tolerances were critical.
To transport the missile, PFlow designed a 6,500 lbs. capacity work platform that travels laterally on 18” wheels via a gear-and-pinion line shaft drive. Vertical travel is controlled via screw lifts mounted inside the platform support columns. Horizontal and vertical positioning is accurate to within 1/8”.
The platform is approximately 20’ 0” x 20’ 0” and weighs more than 28,000 lbs. and travels on a rail system, recessed into the floor. The platform meets OSHA and Lockheed Martin safety standards associated with handling explosive devices as well as for personnel safety while riding the platform.
When a missile comes out of production, it is placed on the work platform. The platform then moves horizontally on the recessed rails into the test chamber. Once inside the chamber, the platform and missile are raised vertically 20 sq. ft. to a designated testing station.
Vertical travel of the platform is controlled via screw lifts mounted inside the platform columns. All services, including power, communications and data, are provided by retractable reels. After missile testing is completed, the platform is lowered and backed out of the chamber.
“Initially, our plan was to move the missiles horizontally into the chamber with an overhead crane. Then, the missile would be placed on a lift that would move it vertically to a designated testing station. This initial concept, however, proved to be too costly and inefficient.”– Michael P. Goeb, Director of Major Projects, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Controls