Composite panels provide a strong, lightweight, and very customizable solution for a variety of industries. The one drawback is that they’re also costly to produce, with no room for error during installation.
SNCF, the operator of the TGV high-speed train in France, had a four-person team to change out the composite panel on the noses of its locomotives – and they only had eight hours to do it. This meant 32 hours of labor, at more than a $100/hr loaded labor rate.
The challenges facing SNCF were:
- Maintaining the performance of an existing safety-critical bolting application.
- The need for a self-locking solution that could operate at low torque, crucial in preventing damage to the composite panel.
- Provide up to 10mm of adjustability in all directions.
- Preferably be embedded in the panels when they arrive from the supplier.
- Eliminating damaged panels due to poor alignment and operator error.
J.Lanfranco created multi-directional, modular fixtures that can be mounted directly on the composite panels using epoxy. These new modular fixtures provided 12mm of movement in all directions. This ensured that, regardless of slight changes or imperfections at the molding stage, they can be easily integrated.
This adjustability resulted in the elimination of damaged panels on change outs, and reduced the average installation time from 32 hours of labor to only eight. It’s estimated that over the life of this system, more than $750,000 in savings will be realized.