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Airbus inaugurates Hamburg’s fourth A320 production line dominated by robots and digital processes

Airbus has inaugurated the fourth Hamburg, Germany production line for its A320 Family of jet airliners.

Making use of digital technologies and a more flexible industrial setup, Airbus says the “innovative state-of-the-art line is a key enabler for ramping up the single-aisle programme to 60 aircraft per month by mid-2019”.

Frank Horch, Hamburg’s senator of economy, transport and innovation and Thomas Jarzombek, federal government coordinator of German aerospace policy, witnessed the milestone together with Guillaume Faury, president Airbus commercial aircraft, and 500 guests at a special ceremony in Hamburg. 

Faury said: “The inauguration of our latest, most modern A320 production line opens a new chapter in efficient, digital aircraft manufacturing.

“With these new technologies, we are building our aircraft more efficiently, a key enabler for higher production rates. I would like to thank the teams who pushed this newest Airbus production standard from concept to reality.”

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Airbus executive and a member of the German senate celebrate the inauguration of Airbus’ fourth production line in Hamburg, Germany. From L-R: Klaus Richter, head of Airbus commercial in Germany; Klaus Röwe, head of A320 family programme; Frank Horch, senator of economy Hamburg; Guillaume Faury, president Airbus commercial aircraft; and Olaf Lawrenz, head of A320 family final assembly lines

With more than 14,000 A320ceo and A320neo Family aircraft ordered and over 8,100 delivered, Airbus claims the A320 is “the world’s most successful single-aisle aircraft family”.

Incorporating the latest state-of-the-art technologies including new-generation engines and Sharklets, the A320neo Family provides 15 percent fuel savings at delivery and 20 percent by 2020.

To date, the A320neo Family has captured nearly a 60 percent market share with more than 6,000 orders from 100 customers.

The A320 Family aircraft are manufactured globally, at Airbus sites in Europe, China, and the US.

In addition to the new production line, Airbus also inaugurated a larger and modernised Hamburg A320 Family delivery centre with more customer areas, more efficient delivery processes and increased hospitality services.

The new A320 production line features two seven-axis robots for automated fuselage drilling (one of which is in the main picture).

These robots are able to drill almost 80 percent of holes on the upper side of the sections, which improves the ergonomic working environment.

The robots also drill with higher accuracy to ensure a constant level of production quality resulting in less rework.

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Furthermore, the new line features an innovative layout and the use of mobile tooling platforms that navigate autonomously with laser trackers.

The new technologies and processes applied in the new line were designed and implemented in close coordination with employees and following the new Airbus principle of “Design Thinking”.

This resulted in a modern and much more efficient working environment with an optimised provisioning of all required materials at the workstations within a range of three metres, shorter walking distances and already unpacked components ready to mount.

Many of the new technologies and processes will be transferred to other Airbus production lines worldwide, says the company.

Main picture: Airbus’ newest production line in Hamburg, Germany drives efficiency with new standards in digitalisation and automation, including two seven-axis robotic arms that perform precise fuselage drilling.

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