Inverted Fork lift Handling Crane for BAE Eurofighter Programme

Aerospace, Nuclear & Defence

The challenge

The introduction of the Eurofighter jet plane necessitated BAE to develop a new production technique in order to efficiently manufacture the titanium wing sections.

These wings needed to be blow-moulded in a furnace at over 800°C, but to make this process feasible, BAE required a handling system capable of removing the wing sections from the furnace, transport them to a cooling area, before sending them onwards in the production process.

The solution

SCX Special Projects engineered a handling system to safely and carefully manipulate the hot and malleable sections of wing, all while operating within the extreme temperatures of the furnace.

This solution was implemented in BAE’s facilities in Salmesbury and has enabled BAE to deploy its new production technique safely and effectively.

All fired up

  • The system can withstand temperatures up to 1100°C, with all materials, components, and greases protected from the heat of the furnace
  • Key components incorporate further shielding, such as the heat-resistant coating which insulates the drag chain power feed
  • The design is based on a fork-lift truck, but with an additional ‘pincer’ motion that brings the two prongs together


Smooth and steady

  • The forks slew through 180° of rotation, achieved using a motorised slewing ring mounted on a precision-machined plate
  • High specification needle roller bearings ensure smooth rotation
  • These features, combined with the forks’ pincer motion, forklift style raising and lowering, and the long and cross travel movements provided by the gantry, enable accurate positioning of the valuable components


Precision movement

  • The 300kg SWL system is operated from a control desk mounted to the rear of the forks
  • This is protected by a transparent shield, offering the necessary protection from the furnace whilst providing the optimum view of the operation
  • Joystick control allows the operator to adjust every movement with precision: from the furnace, onto the set-down area for cooling, and then onto transport to downstream production


Let's talk more about inverted handling solutions.

Our innovative engineering approach takes proven concepts from the safety-critical lifting industry, and combines them with our mechanical and electrical design expertise to create a bespoke solution to your specific handling challenge.

We have decades of experience in engineering systems that perform vital, hazardous, and complex handling procedures - and importantly, they do it safely. Talk to us today.

Call us on +44 114 262 6199, email us at, or complete the contact form below and we'll be in touch.

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199