Airbus has inaugurated its highly automated fuselage structure assembly line for A320 Family aircraft in Hamburg, ‘showcasing’ an evolution in its industrial production system.
With a special focus on manufacturing longer sections for the A321LR, the new facility features 20 robots, a new logistics concept, automated positioning by laser measurement, and a digital data acquisition system.
These elements will further support Airbus’s drive to improve both quality and efficiency while bringing an enhanced level of digitalisation to its industrial production system.
Michael Schoellhorn, Airbus’s COO (www.airbus.com
), said: “By embracing some of the latest technologies and processes, Airbus has begun its journey to set new standards in A320 Family production.
“This new assembly line is an essential enabler for the A320 Family ramp-up.
“Increasing the level of automation and robotics enables faster and more-efficient manufacturing, while keeping our prime focus on quality.”
For the initial section assembly, Airbus is using a modular lightweight automated system called ‘Flextrack’; this features eight robots drilling and counter-sinking some 1,100-2,400 holes per longitudinal joint.
In the next production step, 12 robots (each with seven axes) combine the centre and aft fuselage sections with the tail to form one major component — drilling, counter-sinking, sealing and inserting 3,000 rivets per ‘orbital joint’.
Besides the use of robots, Airbus is also implementing new methods and technologies in material and parts logistics to optimise production, improve ergonomics and shorten lead times.
This includes the separation of logistics and production levels, demand-oriented material replenishment and the use of ‘autonomous guided vehicles’.
The Hamburg structure assembly facility is responsible for joining single fuselage shells into sections, as well as final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages.
Aircraft parts are equipped with electrical and mechanical systems before eventually being delivered to the final assembly lines in France, Germany, China and the USA.