Airbus has inaugurated an automated fuselage structure assembly line for the A320 family of aircraft in Hamburg, the company announced Tuesday. The new facility features 20 robots, a new logistics concept, automated positioning by laser measurement, and a digital data acquisition system.
For the initial section assembly, Airbus uses a modular, lightweight automated system called Flextrack, which employs eight robots drilling and counter-sinking 1,100 to 2,400 holes per longitudinal joint. In the next production step, 12 robots, each operating on seven axes, combine the center 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 will implement new methods and technologies in material and parts logistics to aid production efficiency, improve ergonomics, and shorten lead times. The initiative includes the separation of logistics and production levels, demand-oriented material replenishment, and the use of autonomous guided vehicles.
The Hamburg structure assembly facility carries responsibility for joining single fuselage shells into sections and final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages. Mechanics equip aircraft parts with electrical and mechanical systems their delivery to the final assembly lines in France, Germany, China, and the U.S.