in Defence

Smart factory set to revolutionise UK's combat aircraft production

Posted 13 July 2020 · Add Comment

A new intelligent, smart factory is set to increase productivity and revolutionise combat aircraft production in the UK.



Image courtesy BAE Systems

A first-of-its-kind industry 4.0 factory is applying game-changing digital technologies to advance manufacturing on the UK’s next generation combat aircraft system, Tempest.
 
The new facility at BAE Systems’ site in Warton, Lancashire, is the result of a multimillion pound investment and collaboration with more than 40 blue chip and SME companies along with academic institutions.

Harnessing the best of UK innovation, the Company has developed a digitally connected, intelligent factory for future military aircraft production.
 
Bringing together advanced manufacturing technologies, the factory will transform engineering processes. Automated robots, virtual and augmented reality will increase speed, precision and efficiencies, as well as reduce the costs associated with the manufacture of complex military aircraft structures.
 
The factory also demonstrates a new approach to the way humans and machines can operate together. Cobotic and flexible robotic technologies remove the need for heavy, fixed, long-lead tooling and can quickly switch from the manufacture of one item or platform to another. Intelligent machines and off-the-shelf robotic technology from the automotive industry have been modified to operate at the precise tolerances required for military aircraft, which are less than a third the width of a human hair on some of our programmes.
 
Such technology drives greater productivity by allowing operators to focus on more highly-skilled and strategic tasks and production managers to oversee operations from a fully digitised, virtual office.

The new facility underpins efforts of the UK-led Tempest programme to meet the UK’s ambition to remain at the forefront of the Combat Air sector by delivering more cost-effectively and in half the time of previous programmes.
 
Dave Holmes, Manufacturing Director for BAE Systems Air, said: “We’ve collaborated with the best of UK industry and academia to develop a cutting-edge facility that combines current and emerging technologies, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of combat air technology development.
 
“Driving our manufacturing capabilities forward as we prepare for the fourth Industrial Revolution, will sustain and develop critical skillsets and ensure we can continue to deliver military capability to address future threats, whilst improving productivity and delivering value for money for our customers.”
 
Technologies inside the factory are already delivering benefits. The intelligent workstation, developed in collaboration with The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Fairfield Control Systems, is in use on the Typhoon production line. It uses a system which recognises operators and automatically delivers tailored instructions using ‘pick by light’ technologies. In addition, additive manufacturing technologies are being used in the production of Typhoon aircraft parts and assemblies.
 
BAE Systems and the UK’s aerospace, defence and security sector is world leading, employing hundreds of thousands of people and supporting many more jobs through the supply chain across the country. Together the sector generates £79 billion in turnover, supporting the economy while underpinning national security.

 


 

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Satellite data learning tool brings EO to the next generation

A new UK Space Agency-backed online tool for learning satellite Earth Observation (EO) is now available for trial by higher education institutions.

Operational benefits of freeports in England

The establishment of new freeports in England - expected to be operational by the end of 2021 - offer the prospect of a range of unique business benefits, according to law firm DLA Piper.

Air Charter Scotland unveils second Biggin Hill based Citation M2

Air Charter Scotland has introduced a second Cessna Citation 525 M2, from its newest London Biggin Hill Airport base, coinciding with the first lifting of travel restrictions from 17th May.

Heathrow calls for significant expansion of 'green' list countries

As it reported today that it had lost 6.2 million passengers in April, down 92.1%, compared to pre-pandemic 2019 figures - following over a year of restrictions on non-essential travel - Heathrow called for significant expansion of

Guidance issued to prevent use of vehicles as weapons in terror attacks

New guidance designed to prevent commercial vehicles, including vans, lorries, buses, coaches and even cranes, from being used as weapons in acts of terrorism, was published yesterday.

Cobham Mission Systems wins $7.1m NAVSUP UWARS contract

Cobham Mission Systems announced today that it has been awarded a new $7.1 million prime contract from the US Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP) for production and delivery of Universal Water Activated

Vulcan SK1802180521
See us at
RAF Museum BTDSEI bt1602170921Space Comm Expo BT