Manufacturers in the aerospace industry build some of humankind’s most advanced technology every day. And if you asked most consumers to guess what an aircraft production line looks like, they’d probably describe something similar to an automotive assembly line. But at the moment, building an airplane is far less automated than building a car.
There are many reasons for the current lack of automation in the aerospace industry. Aircraft manufacturers employ a lot of skilled workers. Because of intense regulation and safety requirements, aerospace manufacturers often stick with proven methods. But new applications and increased reliability for robotics are bringing automation to the aerospace industry.
One of the most tedious parts of building an aircraft is all the drilling and fastening. Robotics are now being used to drill the holes for rivets and fasten structures. These robots are equipped with vision systems that allow engineers to bypass specific jigs. The robots find the desired spots on their own and deliver precise, repeatable results.
Applying sealants to large aircraft components can be difficult for humans. Building safe scaffolding and getting to hard-to-reach areas to apply sealants as quickly as needed for proper adhesion can be a challenge. But robot arms can reach high into the air and out over large aircraft components. This helps keep humans safe and deliver quality results.
Parts for motors and turbines are large components for humans to weld. Often more than one welder is needed to weld a single component. Other components are made of exotic metals. High precision and safety are needed to weld metals like titanium and nickel-alloy. Automated solutions can weld faster with better accuracy.
Strict safety regulations require the aerospace industry to put more investment into inspections than most manufacturing sectors. Robots can perform non-destruction inspection processes fast with high accuracy. Automated solutions are available to find evidence of delamination, foreign objects, cracks in materials, and fastener issues that could result in catastrophe.
Aircraft manufacturers have to move large components around size-limited facilities. Robots let manufacturers move parts safely by keeping humans out of harm’s way. These large, automated transportation robots can reposition components quickly even with human workers nearby thanks to vision systems and other sensors.
Find out how Genesis Systems is helping the aerospace industry streamline production and lower operating costs.