Airbus is in the midst of revolutionary changes that may lead the aerospace giant to spend more than $1 billion on robotics, automation and digitalisation technologies across its global operation in the next few years – that’s if the advances at the company’s Hamburg, Germany facility are duplicated in all its facilities worldwide.
The multinational consortium could end up spending a lot more: for example, the final stages of its internal assembly is labour-intensive, with all equipment – seats and luggage compartments – installed by humans. If this stage is roboticised, as the company’s chief operating officer has suggested, it would fundamentally change the current production process, something which he is envisaging anyway.
Robotic technologies have already transformed the way Airbus manufactures the exterior shell of its planes. Whereas, in the past, human workers would have drilled the 6,000 or more external holes in the fuselage of a typical commercial airliner, now, robots not only drill them, they also rivet or fasten them.
Perhaps surprisingly to some readers, the drilling was done by humans all these years until now, and even now, it’s only at the Hamburg facility that robots have been brought in.
Last week, Airbus provided more insight into its highly automated aircraft manufacturing facility in Hamburg – a place called Finkenwerder, to be precise, at what’s described as a “private airport”.
The aerospace jumbo invited a small group of journalists, including one from Robotics and Automation News, for a visit to the vast, sprawling complex, and a detailed, guided tour of Hangar 245, the advanced manufacturing facility in which aircraft belonging to the “A320 Family”, as Airbus describes them, are currently being assembled. [Read more…] about Special feature: Tour of Airbus’ advanced manufacturing facility in Germany