The aerospace industry is responsible for some of the greatest technical innovations in human history. When it comes to manufacturing fundamentals, though, it tends to be conservative – using “tried and true” methods that are sure to deliver the expected safety and quality.
In recent years, however, aerospace has embraced something truly cutting edge: Robots.
Due to their tireless efficiency and precision, automated robotic systems have the potential to revolutionize aerospace manufacturing. The impact robots stand to make on the industry will be every bit as dramatic as the advent of spaceflight – or, indeed, flight itself.
Robots Make Complex Manufacturing Tasks Easier Than Ever
In aerospace, there’s no room for error in either design or manufacture. Through repeatable, reliable results, robotic systems have the potential to drastically curb the already extremely low defect rate throughout the industry.
Here’s how they’re doing it:
Robots are already used in plants worldwide, inspecting components to precise specifications at high speeds. The same systems can be adapted to aerospace. Laser scanners have proven particularly effective at maintaining the tight tolerances the industry demands.
Drilling & Fastening
In other industries, inspection is the king of automated processes: In aerospace, it’s drilling. Advanced machine vision systems mean there’s no need to develop a custom jig for every manual drilling job. Plus, multiple drilling steps can be completed quickly in just one pass.
Robotic welding is truly revolutionary. It practically eliminates the safety concerns and hazards associated with manual welding; plus, a whole welding project can be completed with only a small fraction of the usual waste. This makes it cost-effective when using expensive metals.
Sealing & Dispensing
Applying the final coatings to a large-scale fuselage is a long, tedious, and potentially dangerous undertaking. Robotic arms situated on rails can effectively apply sealant, paint, and various other coatings at distances up to several stories.
Although the basics of aerospace are slow to change, major industry players are warming to the vast potential of aerospace robotics. In the near future, the most important manufacturing processes for jetliners and spacecraft might all be managed by machine.
Final inspections, of course, will be executed by human experts!
To discover the future of aerospace robotics, sign up for the upcoming RIA webinar: Robotics in Aerospace Automation. Scheduled for December 8, this one-hour event will address how today’s major jetliner manufacturers are using automation to resolve their backlog and increase quality.