Application Stories

Air Tractor Achieves High Flying Productivity with VERNON Tool

Air Tractor, Inc. of Olney, Texas produces the world’s most extensive product line of aircraft for agricultural spraying, seeding, fertilizing, or firefighting.

On any day in Olney, Texas, you are bound to see a dusty cowboy walking through town or in sharp contrast; you will more than likely also see a brightly colored, state-of-art firefighting plane soaring through the sky. Olney is a rural, relaxed town on the outskirts of Wichita Falls with a few surprises up its sleeve. The local landing strip seems to be a hotspot of activity for this unique, small town.

Improve the efficiency of manufacturing the over 120 tube sections that comprise a fuselage frame.

MasterTube™ Cutting Machine (MTC) from VERNON Tool™, A Lincoln Electric Company.

Fuselage frame tubes are cut and profiled in half the time. End profile is more accurate and requires less fine trimming.

Recently renovated, this WWII-era airport has three long runways and serves as home to Air Tractor, Inc. A 100% employee owned company, Air Tractor is the world’s leading manufacturer of agricultural spraying and firefighting aircraft. Producing more than 2,400 aircraft since 1974, this motivated team of employees is quality driven and productivity conscious.

With more than 50 years associated with the design and manufacture of agricultural and aerial firefighting planes, the Air Tractor team continually proves they know their customers and they know their business. Being a global supplier and a results driven company, Air Tractor strives to improve productivity by repeatedly looking for new efficiencies in their manufacturing operation.

The Air Tractor plane design is an all tubular fuselage frame, with more than 120 different tube sections in each frame. Finding a method to produce tubes with profiled ends efficiently was a bottleneck the team needed to overcome. After several years of searching, the Air Tractor team determined that there were few affordable ways to profile small diameter tubes in an automated, effective manner.

Together with VERNON Tool™, Rick and his staff refined the cutting requirements and raw material shape and length. Raw lengths of 20 ft. round tubing were used to fabricate complex multiple intersection joints.

The results were immediate. According to Rick Turner, Vice President, Operations at Air Tractor, “VERNON Tool™ has changed my perception; we are producing profiled tubes in 50% of the time and the conversion to this method was virtually painless with no down-time at all.”

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