Airbus has introduced 20 robots into its “highly automated fuselage structure” assembly line at its Hamburg plant to speed up the manufacture of longer sections of its A321LR (long range) narrowbody.
The aircraft manufacturer joins single fuselage shells into sections as well as the final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages at the facility.
It said in a statement that the line was an evolution in its industrial production system, not only with robots but also a new logistics concept, automated positioning by laser measurement and a digital data acquisition system.
Airbus chief operating officer Michael Schoellhorn said increasing the level of automation and robotics enabled faster, more efficient manufacturing while keeping the company’s prime focus on quality.
“Given the enormous success of the A320 family and the order backlog, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure our production system can match the excellence of our products and that we are able to satisfy our customers’ needs for our single-aisle aircraft,” Schoellhorn said.
“A high level of trust and investment has been placed in our people and factories in Hamburg. We now need to deliver in line with our commitments made to customers while ensuring overall competitiveness.”
The initial section assembly will use a modular, lightweight automated system called “flextrack” with eight robots drilling and counter-sinking 1100 to 2400 holes per longitudinal joint.
In the next production step used 12 robots operate on seven axes to combine the centre and aft fuselage sections with the tail to form one major component.
The company said it was also implementing new methods and technologies in material and parts logistics at the facility to optimise production and shorten lead times.
VIDEO: An Airbus video looking at the highly automated Airbus A320 structure assembly line in Hamburg.