Aerospace manufacturing is an increasingly competitive business. Robotic systems play a pivotal role in meeting the safe, uniform standards required of the industry’s manufacturing processes while lowering costs and increasing production. The reliability, capability, and precision of robots have added to their popularity.
Building the Fuselage
The drilling and fastening process is the most common application for aerospace automation. Thousands of holes must be drilled into a fuselage for riveting. Robots locate where to drill on the airframe with machine vision systems. They can then use custom end effectors to switch rapidly between the needed tools and components.
Construction methods, such as the FAUB (fuselage automated upright build) system keep the fuselage in a fixed position while robots perform repeated, labor-intensive tasks. As the system continues to ramp up in terms of production, workflow, quality, and cost improvements are realized.
Inspecting the Components
For obvious reasons, the quality and safety of an aircraft are of utmost importance to the aerospace industry. Exterior components must deal with a wide range of environments and stress. Interior components must be fire retardant and tolerate extreme forces. Both internal and external systems work together to help keep passengers safe.
Advanced robotics are used to test the limits of parts from the airframes to the landing gear to the seat belts. Robots use ultrasonic and visual inspection methods by means of sensors and machine vision cameras. They look for cracks or delamination issues. Specialized robotics use 3-D scanning to check dimensional tolerances and build integrity.
Testing the Aircraft Systems
Aircraft are subjected to large amounts of electromagnetic interference (EMI) and must meet electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements. Solar radiation, weather phenomena, and even the plane’s own systems produce electromagnetic energy.
Robots perform EMC testing to ensure that EMI produced by both external and internal factors do not affect the sensitive and critical aircraft systems. Traditional testing was a cumbersome process, but using a system of robots has greatly sped the process.
Improving Safety for Humans With Aerospace manufacturing
Safety is an added benefit of integrating robotic systems. With traditional fabrication, a team of mechanics would labor inside and outside the aircraft. Repetitive tasks like drilling, fastening, and riveting put many strains on the human body.
With the high demands of production goals, robots can produce uniform results over and over without rest. Painting is also hazardous work for humans. Robots do not require scaffolding and can be designed to be exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Learn how Genesis Systems multi-process robotic integration solutions for aircraft, space and defense manufacturing solve the toughest manufacturing challenges.