Traditionally, in the civil aerospace industry, assembly fixtures are large, bespoke, permanent structures that are costly to both design and manufacture. Additionally, the time to design, manufacture and install a large fixture can be significant with lead times in excess of 24 months.
Within Airbus Operations Ltd there is a requirement to reduce non-recurring costs, reduce the time to market and improve the capacity and flexibility of equipment. This means that while the costs and lead times must be reduced, the utilisation of the tooling should be increased.
Flexible and reconfigurable fixtures have not yet been deployed within Airbus Operations Ltd due to the assembly sizes and complex component configurations. However, they offer the potential for reducing costs by utilising off the shelf components. Using standard parts and implementing design tools can reduce the design time. The reconfigurable and flexible nature of the fixture will also enable embodiment of late component design changes with minimal time and cost impact.
This paper presents the design, manufacture and installation of a reconfigurable fixture to assemble a wing box section in a research environment. This tooling demonstrator is then being used to evaluate the technical and industrial benefits of reconfigurable fixtures for aircraft wing sub assemblies and assemblies at Airbus.
Society of Automotive Engineers, 2009.
SAE 2010 Aerospace Manufacturing and Automated Fastening Conference & Exhibition, September 28-30, Wichita, KS, USA