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AVT Europe’s Shifter to offer Avio innovative transport solutions

Here at AVT Europe, we’re known far and wide for our innovative transport solutions (under the Shifter brand) and automatisation capabilities. It’s what led us to develop a state-of-the-art transport system for Avio, an Italian tech giant at home in various domains, from commercial aviation to military industry. 

Read all about how the AVT Shifter took on the challenge posed by Avio: building a transport system designed to serve the Ariane 6 rocket fuel tank. 

The challenge

At their HQ in Turin, Italy, Avio designs and builds spacecraft components. Their projects Vega’ and Ariane 6’ — successors to the Ariane 5 spacecraft — both required a transport solution capable of handling a 165-ton fuel tank. Luckily, we at AVT Europe possess the right knowledge, technology; references and expert staff to turn projects like these into reality. So that’s what we ended up doing.

Transport solution experts

The Avio team found its way to AVT Europe because of our expertise when it comes to bringing large-scale transport systems to life — with no sector beyond our reach. Avio asked us to come up with a solution for transporting the fuel tanks of the Vega and Ariane 6 spacecrafts. We immediately turned to Shifter: our transport solution of choice, known for being able to deploy in tailor-made fashion or in a standardized format.

It wasn’t Avio’s first encounter with the Shifter, however. They were once in need of a custom transport solution too — to carry heavy loads across a delicate surface. Today’s circumstances differed quite a bit though. The fuel tank that needed moving around weighed around 165 tons. This meant the use of air cushions was no longer an option, being too expensive and demanding in practice. After all, the presence of an air hose would do little to improve flexibility and freedom of movement.

Multi wheel instead of air cushions

In order to come up with a matching solution, AVT and Avio decided to join forces. Together we managed to bring a proper solution to the table — one considered an improvement to the previous air cushion-powered system: the multi wheel.

Multi what? Well, thanks to the sets of wheels underneath the Shifter the weight gets divided equally across the ground surface, preserving both the floor and the fuel tank from damage or extreme pressure. The wheels also allow for maximum precision when carrying heavy loads, even at low installation heights.

The Shifter’s wheels guarantee precision, going as far as allowing for swift 360° turns. Its modest installation height enables the Shifter to move underneath the fuel tank with ease, reducing lifting and carrying the tank around to an easy task.

Static and dynamic testing in a natural environment

Design and development of the Flex Shifter took place at our headquarters in Essen. It’s here that we carried out the initial tests, covering a modest 80 tons in the process. Because of Avio’s specific demands, additional static and dynamic tests were required. With HQ unable to provide a suitable environment to test beyond the 80-tons weight limit, we performed the final trials on site in Rotterdam. Along with Avio of course. It was up to them to judge our efforts.

The Flex Shifter passed the static test by carrying a total weight of 180 tons, well over its expected 150-ton maximum after deployment with Avio in Italy. We decided to go with safety and security though, hence the increased testing weight. The dynamic test proved equally successful. Upon completion of a seamless test drive while carrying a load of 150 tons, the Flex Shifter returned back to Essen for completion. By the time you’re reading this, the Shifter will be fully operational in Italy.

Reliance and perfection, from design to delivery

It is vital — especially in the aviation industry — to guarantee safety and security at all times. In fact, It’s the main reason for us at ATV Europe to keep working in a way that values the importance of precision and care. Just like it should be.

Want to know more? Why not get in touch with us?

AVT Europe NV
Postbaan 65
BE-2910 Essen