The aerospace industry has long been a front-runner when it comes to robotic automation. From complex part designs and materials to urgent needs to fill huge order backlogs, industrial automation has played a key role in many aerospace milestones. Today, robotic automation continue to tackle the most pressing challenges in the industry.
Achieving accurate, productive inspection of large parts in the aerospace industry has been a major challenge for years. This is particularly true for robotic automation, where the robot either has to move around the part or the part has to move around the robot. Now, the most innovative robotics companies are finding ways to productively inspect large aerospace parts.
Challenges in Inspection of Large Aerospace Parts
Ultrasonic non-destructive inspection (NDI) is a precise, productive way to inspect the entirety of large parts in aerospace manufacturing. However, NDI must be integrated with a larger, complex robotic system capable of inspecting the whole part. Typically, this must take the form of a mobile platform with one or more robots to allow the robot to access all portions of a part.
On top of the complexity required of the robotic system, the end effectors must be complex too. In addition to NDI capabilities, an end effector must be able to perform multiple different functions over the course of very long cycle times and multiple passes. Most end effectors for large aerospace parts must also be very large to accommodate the size of the piece being inspected.
Robotic Ultrasonic Non-Destructive Inspection Improves Productivity on Large Rocket Parts
Recently, a pioneer in the aerospace industry needed a custom robotic NDI system to automate inspection of extremely large composite components approximately 40 feet long and 18 feet across. This made quick inspection of 100% of the part a major challenge, especially for a stationary cell.
Genesis eventually integrated a complex robotic NDI solution on a mobile platform. A single-robot one-track system was able to effectively inspect composite rocket components from underneath the part.
In the end, the project was a complete success. The innovative aerospace company realized a reduced cycle time around 30 hours and improved accuracy in inspection.
To learn more, read the Genesis Systems Group case study on robotic NDI for composite rocket components.