Research Project Will Develop Automated Assembly & Inspection Technology for Aircraft Structures
Jody Muelaner posted on August 22, 2018 |
Assembly cell with human to robot collaboration
Assembly cell with human to robot collaboration

A new £8 million research project, led by GKN Aerospace and backed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), is focusing on developing and demonstrating robotic and digital technologies required for the next generation of aircraft wing manufacturing.

The Developing Automated Assembly & Inspection Technology for Aircraft Structures (DAITAS) project brings together two leading wing structure manufacturers, GKN Aerospace, which has UK manufacturing facilities in Filton, Western Approach and the Isle of Wight, and Bombardier, which has a UK facility based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Automated sealant application trials
Automated sealant application trials

The project will progress technologies that have emerged from the recently completed VIEWS (Validation and Integration of Manufacturing Enablers for Future Wing Structures) research project through to representative demonstration, but will also introduce new scope in areas such as Industry 4.0, human-robot collaboration, design for automation, and nondestructive testing techniques.

To ensure the work utilizes the latest ideas and capabilities, the project is partnering with UK universities through subcontracts, HVM catapult centers, and systems suppliers on a work-package basis. Work began in July 2016 and already includes the Manufacturing Technology Centre, The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, TWI, University of Bath, University College London, University of Strathclyde, KUKA Systems, Nikon Metrology Europe, Loop Technologies, SP Technologies, North West Aerotooling, Insphere, and Wavelength NDT.

COBOT assembly cell
COBOT assembly cell

By the time work is expected to conclude in June 2019, the project aims to have enabled over a dozen separate technologies that can be incorporated into current UK manufacturing lines and advanced readiness of a similar number of strategically significant lower maturity technologies.

Successful implementation of the technologies will help improve manufacturing productivity in the near term and build crucial skills in automation and programming. In the medium and long term, the project aims to position and differentiate the partners through their rate capability, quality and cost capability to bring significant work shares of new aircraft manufacturing to the UK.


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