World’s largest Skyfall conveyor begins operating in China



The Skyfall installation operating since 2017 at automotive supplier DRÄXLMAIER in Shenyang in China includes more than 18,000 trolley hangers and is continuously being expanded. This makes it the largest system ever delivered to date by Swiss materials handling specialist Ferag. Its task is to convey and buffer plastic injection-moulded parts for vehicle interiors on their way from the injection moulding machine to downstream processing.

This very complex Skyfall system in the north-eastern Chinese metropolis was installed in several construction phases to join up the production process chain: the Swiss company’s overhead conveyor technology links together two core processes in the manufacture of interior components, namely injection moulding and subsequent finishing and assembly.

The trolley hangers custom-developed by Ferag can receive up to six components at a time, put them into intermediate buffer storage, and then convey them to the next stage of work.

This completely eliminates the tugger trains conventionally used in such situations to ferry around injection-moulded parts. The transport suspended ten metres overhead not only increases operational reliability but also reduces the risk of accidents at floor level. The extra space created there can be put to other uses, for example for people to move around. The automation associated with the Skyfall implementation also contributes to more fail-safe operation and greater process reliability. It enables higher throughput as well, because machines handle all the inter-process links including check-in and check-out. Only the eight infeed stations at the injection moulding machines and the ten unloading points in the finishing area still require manual labour.

The high requirements met

The DRÄXLMAIER plant in Shenyang produces vehicle interiors. Family-owned DRÄXLMAIER Group based in Vilsbiburg, Lower Bavaria, has decades of experience developing and manufacturing high-quality interior solutions for premium cars. Of crucial importance is mastery over the entire process chain from the initial idea to the development and production process right through to supplying the OEM in proper sequence. Which is to say: extremely high requirements with regard to efficiency, system availability and supplier quality are the top priority here, as indeed they are throughout the automotive industry. Swiss system provider Ferag also had to meet these requirements as prerequisite to being shortlisted by DRÄXLMAIER as a supplier for the expanding production site in Shenyang.


Injection-moulded parts descend by hoisting lift: a delivery station in the finishing and assembly area.

What’s special: all of the overhead buffer lines are driven by gravity alone and fed by vertical lifts. The gravity-driven stretch by itself extends over more than 5 km. The whole system thus operates with just a few drives, making it very energy-efficient as well as very quiet. In addition, the overhead buffer can receive more than 18,000 trolley hangers.

Gigantic production buffer: overhead storage for 18,000 trolley hangers.