Robotics & Automation News

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Spirit AeroSystems uses robots for quality inspection of large aerospace parts

Spirit AeroSystems is using robotics hardware and software technologies to inspect its composite aerospace components such as fuselages, wings and substructures.

The company is using the new robotic non destructive inspection (NDI) technology at its headquarters location in Wichita, Kansas, US, and plans to use similar technology at its Prestwick, Scotland, facility.

“Typically, inspections for meeting customer requirements have been done by large, fixed systems that are difficult to adapt to new applications,” said Dan Caughran, Spirit vice president, Global Quality.

“Our new approach is built around two industrial robots that can interchange among seven different sensors and multiple inspection methods. In short, had this technology not been available, we would have had to rely on solutions of far less flexibility and roughly twice the cost.”

Mike Grosser, Spirit’s lead NDI engineer, said: “Either cooperatively or independently, the robots automatically inspect complex composite parts up to 200 feet long, dramatically reducing the time required for inspection – sometimes up to 40 percent faster.

“Analysis of the results is achieved through advanced phased array digital signal processing, which can be automated through machine learning.”

Spirit engineers are also investigating and applying robotics technology for other manufacturing applications where flexible automation is required, such as machining, sealing and material handling.