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Tag Archives | Aerospace

Aerospace automation engineering is the primary field of automation engineering concerned with the development of aircraft and spacecraft.

Meggitt Robotic Drilling Workcell

Meggitt Polymers & Composites recently updated their manufacturing operations by installing a Drill and Cutting workcell, designed and integrated by Concept Systems. The fully automated workcell uses a Fanuc M-710 series robotic arm and state of the art end of arm tooling to drill and cut material for the aerospace industry. The goal of this project was to improve accuracy and throughput of thousands of parts, allowing Meggitt Polymers & Composites to meet the needs of their customers.

Project duration: 4 months

Team:
Client: 1
Concept Systems: 4

Concept Systems’ time on site: 2 weeks

Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Meggitt PLC is an international group employing some 8,000 people specializing in aerospace equipment, high performance sensors, defense training and combat systems. Meggitt Polymers & Composites, in McMinnville, OR focuses on delivering gaskets and seals to rigorous standards to be used by some of the world’s leading manufacturers.

Meggitt Polymers & Composites had an opportunity to expand their business with a current client, but to do so, they would have to increase production by means other than human labor. Historically, the work on these parts was being done manually in a labor intensive manner. Production rates were limited to an average of 1000 parts per year, but needed to increase production by 300%, or 3000 parts per year, to meet demand. In addition to throughput, accuracy and safety were of high concern.

“A lot of these operations were being done by hand, and we were missing holes,” James Robertson, Meggitt’s vice president of operations, said in a recent news article featuring the project. “This enabled us to simplify the process and improve our quality.”

Concept Systems kicked off the project by meeting with the project manager at Meggitt, to first understand their operations, concerns and goals, ensuring the right solution was delivered based on measurable results and a favorable return on investment.  Once the objectives, timelines, and goals were established, Concept moved forward with the design of the workcell.

The system that Concept created for the drill and cutting project is a fully automated workcell featuring a Fanuc M-710 Robot. The workcell boasts an integrated tool changer that provides seamless interchange of tools, allowing continuous production of the desired hole shape and size for 8 different parts. Further, Concept designed end-of-arm tooling to accommodate 14 automated, interchangeable options for drilling and cutting.  To support flexibility of the workcell, Concept also designed and provided fixture racks to accommodate 8 different parts. All of this was under the direction of a thorough risk assessment based on ANSI/RIA R1506-2012: safety first design of the workcell and all components.

Technology used in workcell:

  • Fanuc M-710iC Series Robot
  • ServoRobot Tool Changer
  • PushCorp High Torque Servo Toolholder
  • Tool Changing Station
  • 4 Custom Built Part Fixtures
  • Safety Interlocked System Guarding: Light Curtain, Area Scanner, Dust Hood

The workcell has now been in production for over 6 months and the initial results show that the project was a success. Meggitt has expanded their production capacity to 3000 parts per year – a 300% increase as per the project goal. Meggitt has also achieved high precision and repeatability from the robot and tools which significantly reduced rework and product loss. Last, the physical guard fencing, door interlocks, and area scanners provide the latest in worker protection.

System Integrators of the Year: The future is today for 2016 winners

ConceptSystems-12-3-1511356Albany, Ore.-based Concept Systems has built a reputation as a problem-solver for its customers in the aerospace, pulp and paper, building products, food and beverage, and metals industries as well as help integration customers get the most out of their project.

The Pacific Northwest is home to airplanes and the raw materials for paper airplanes. It’s also a home for outstanding system integration. Albany, Ore.-based Concept Systems has built a reputation as a problem-solver for its customers in aerospace, pulp and paper, building products, food and beverage, and metals. Michael Gurney, president of Concept Systems, discusses his team’s success and how to help integration customers get the most out of their project in a conversation with CFE Media.

CFE Media What is the one thing plant management can do to help ensure a successful integration process?

Gurney: The most important aspect of the integration process is managing the risks; identifying and mitigating each. The types and scale of risk vary from project to project and change dynamically during the course of a project. This requires that you have a team that has the skill set and processes in place to handle them.

Partnering with a (Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) Certified Integrator is a good place to start, as having processes for risk identification and mitigation is a key qualifier. Getting your integration partner engaged early in the process is the one thing that can be done to ensure success.

We understand automation projects and the inherent risks. As such, we know the right questions to ask to avoid project pitfalls. Most project risks can be identified early in the process if the right questions are asked and all the information is on the table. Like any risk in life, the earlier the risk is identified, the better it can be mitigated. With the proper planning, automation integration should be the norm. Continue Reading →

Boeing retools Renton plant for 737’s big ramp-up

After finishing systems installation, a Boeing 737 is prepared for wing installation at Boeing’s 737 assembly plant in Renton. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

After finishing systems installation, a Boeing 737 is prepared for wing installation at Boeing’s 737 assembly plant in Renton. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Boeing is transforming its 737 plant in Renton with new automation as it prepares to ramp up production to the unprecedented rate of 52 jets per month, or even more.

Six shiny, green 737 fuselage shells, freshly delivered by train from Wichita, Kan., sit snugly cradled in a steel superstructure like giant eggs in a carton at Boeing’s Renton factory.

Underneath, swarming mechanics install the guts of each airplane — wads of insulation blankets, snaking bundles of electrical wiring, intricately intertwined metal hydraulic tubes and pumps.

But despite appearances, those fuselages aren’t trapped in steel.

Soon, the steel walkways encasing the jets will lift away like drawbridges, freeing the fuselages to slide 150 feet forward during the night into the next position in Boeing’s newest moving assembly line.

The factory, already a showcase of efficiency with its two final-assembly lines churning out 42 of the single-aisle jets monthly, is gearing up by 2018 to build them at a prodigious pace of 52 a month — and later perhaps even more.

A key step is extending the use of moving assembly lines to the back-end shops where mechanics build the wings and stuff those fuselage shells. Continue Reading →

The 2015 Aerospace Forecast

Robots on the rise
David Skidmore, a strategic solutions specialist at Concept Systems and a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association, says machine vision, robotics, and manufacturing intelligence are enabling the aerospace industry to automate tasks that pose safety risks for employees, are tedious, or time consuming – increasing production capacity and improving quality.

“Applications for intelligent robotics are becoming more prevalent,” Skidmore says.

Having a robot move a stack of parts allows the work cell to make active and intelligent decisions, identifying and processing the correct part rather than just pulling a part from the stack. Human interactions with robots are also a focus, with features to ensure movements, speeds, and torques for robots to integrate safely with workers.

Read the original article here.

Boeing Saves Money By Using System Integrator to Retrofit Existing Shot Peener Machines

The inconsistency in machinery controls created operation and maintenance inefficiencies at two Boeing plants in the state of Washington. With a control system upgrade, they were able to make the aging machines work like new — or possibly better — at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new machines.

The shot peener machines in Boeing’s Auburn and Frederickson plants were between 20 and 40 years old, and based on different, aging control technologies and hardware. Some machines used hardwired relay logic, while others had older Programmable Logic Controls (PLCs) and Computer Numerical Controls (CNCs). The inconsistency in machinery controls created operation and maintenance inefficiencies. Parts were becoming obsolete, and maintenance was becoming more expensive. Reliability was an issue. Managers knew that an upgrade was in order.

The aging equipment in question, seven shot peener machines, is used to form and contour the wings and also to harden the wing surfaces of 737, 777, and 767 aircraft. The process involves blasting the aluminum part at high speed with metal shot of different sizes depending on the operation. Larger shot diameters (as large as 0.54 inch) are used for forming and smaller diameters (as small as .028 inch) are used for cold working (i.e., surface hardening). The specialized shot peener machines are quite sizable. The Spanwise Peener machine is 3 1/2 stories high — large enough to fit the wing skin of a 747 aircraft. Continue Reading →

Control Upgrades Give Peening Machines a Shot in the Arm

Boeing has learned first-hand how a control-system upgrade can make an old machine work like new, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new machine. Case in point: recent refurbishing of four shot-peening machines at the Boeing Fabrication Division plant in Auburn, WA. The Boeing fabrication shop uses spanwise peening machines for contouring wing components, and compression peening machines for cold working. Early in 2011, plant managers decided to upgrade the machines’ controls, which ranged from 20 to 40 years old. Some used relay logic and some were CNC-based. Parts had become obsolete, and maintenance had become overly expensive.

The plant’s managers sought new controls that were more process-oriented, and simple-to-use human-machine interfaces (HMIs) standardized with operator controls used at other Boeing plants. To help with the upgrades, Boeing turned to Concept Systems Inc. Albany, OR, and its engineer Jim Ford, who proposed replacing the old CNCs with Allen-Bradley PLCs. In addition, he recommended Allen-Bradley Panel View terminals to provide the graphics displays. The old DC servos were replaced with smaller AC servomotors and new gearboxes were installed to upgrade the mechanical aspects of the machine. Continue Reading →