Boeing is in the final phases of testing and production readiness of a new robotic method for building 777s known as the Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB). FAUB, which has been under development at Boeing since 2012, is one of a number of aircraft manufacturing automation initiatives Boeing has under development.
- Robotic Drilling and Filling – FAUB was designed for Boeing by KUKA Systems. Using the FAUB technology,fuselage sections are built using automated, guided robots which fasten curved panel sections together to create aircraft fuselages. The FAUB system drills and fills more than 60,000 fasteners that were previously installed by hand. Boeing officials note, “This is the first time such technology will be used by Boeing to manufacture widebody commercial airplanes and the 777 program is leading the way.”
- Safety – According to Boeing, more than half of all injuries on the 777 program have occurred during the drilling and filling phase of fuselage production. This fact, combined with the repetitive nature of the work, make these processes ideally suited for robotic automation. One of the key drivers for the development of the FAUB system was safety improvement.
- Productivity and Quality – FAUB testing has already taken place, and production readiness preparations are underway. The FAUB system will be installed in Boeing’s Everett, Washington manufacturing facility, and is expected to be implemented in the next few years.
- Dramatic Increase in Automation – In August 2013, the Seattle Times reported that Boeing was secretly testing new types of automation methods for building their 777X series of aircraft. Boeing admitted that they intended to dramatically increase the company’s level of automation for aircraft manufacturing, largely in response to competitors such as Airbus (At the time, Boeing admitted that Airbus was more advanced in terms of manufacturing automation). The FAUB system is just one of a number of manufacturing automation technologies under development at Boeing.
- Overcoming the Bottleneck – Through a combination of automation and outsourcing, Boeing hopes to increase the production rate of 777s from 8.3 planes per month to approximately 10 to 12 to reach a goal of 100 planes per year. According to Boeing, the leading bottleneck for the production of the 777 is the manufacture of large componentry, particularly the fuselage. The Fuselage Automated Upright Build technology is designed specifically to reduce build times and improve first-time quality of the fuselage assembly process. FAUB technology speeds fuselage production by automating the joining of curved aluminum panels produced by Japanese contract manufacturers to generate larger fuselage sections.
- GKN Aerospace’s Automated Assembly Project Emphasizes Productivity, But Greater Benefits…
- What Does the Robotics World Really Care About? ARISPlex Readership…
- Boeing Dramatically Increasing Automation for Airline Manufacturing
- GKN Aerospace’s STeM Manufacturing Automation Trial Completes: Productivity Up, Costs…
- Bombardier “Crafts” Aircraft Using Advanced Robotics Tech