Raytheon Builds New State-of-the-Art Radar Production Factory

Robotics-assisted facility will assemble and test the company’s newest radars.

Raytheon has added an impressive advanced manufacturing facility to its Andover, Mass., campus. The company will use the facility to build its Air and Missile Defense Radar, the AN/SPY-6, for the U.S. Navy. The AN/SPY-6 is the Navy’s next-generation integrated air and missile defense radar.

Raytheon`s Air and Missile Defense Radar system.

The AN/SPY-6 consists of 37 radar cubes, each weighing hundreds of pounds, stacked into an octagonal shape. Raytheon needed a larger facility and near-field ranges to build, test and calibrate the radar arrays.

The 30,000-square-foot facility, which cost $72 million and took over a year to build, features advanced automation technology. Under its 60-foot ceilings is a 40-ton robotic bridge crane built into the roof. It can span the entire assembly area and is capable of picking up arrays, flipping them and manipulating them.

The factory floor is crisscrossed by automated mobile robots (AMRs)—mobile robots that autonomously inspect parts, choose tools, assemble components and deliver parts to the crane. One large AMR uses laser navigation throughout the facility to carry a component and place it within 3mm of its target in minutes. When the AMRs are done, they return to their docking stations to charge.

The facility is also automated to include sensors that detect where tools are in the room and secure automated tool chests that track who has checked out a tool.

The testing room walls and ceiling are lined with 92,000 blue foam cones to absorb sound and prevent external sound from penetrating the facility while the highly sensitive radar arrays are tested and calibrated.

A 1.5-megawatt substation powers the facility, with enough capacity to meet current and future requirements.

To design the new factory, Raytheon turned to its in-house design facility, which used virtual reality simulation and immersive design to create the blueprints. It even created avatars to assess whether a hallway felt too tight or if a piece of equipment was too close to a wall. The company’s engineers and technicians actively helped the designers understand what the assembly process would look like and to automate as much of the process as possible. The result is a facility that runs with just a few dozen humans present.

“This advanced manufacturing campus now has the ability to work from atoms all the way up to massive radar arrays,” said Sarah Jennette, program manager for the project. “From physical size, to power capabilities, to automated tech, we are building for the future of radar.”

Read more about Raytheon’s dominance of the radar manufacturing market at Raytheon Set to Increase Radar Manufacturing Capacity.