Impact of Automation in Aerospace Metal Fabrication

What is the hottest topic in the aerospace industry right now?

Right now, a big topic within the main aerospace manufacturing companies in the country, like Airbus and Boeing, is increasing the automation involved when making airplanes.

Aerospace sheet metal fabrication involves the incorporation of instrumentation, gauges, search and navigation systems, storage, and much more. An increasing number of companies are relying on the use of automation for the installation of fasteners and terminals, thus making the production of airplane parts quicker and more precise than ever before.

At Midwest Metal Products, we use EML turret/lasers to provide automated loading and unloading with outstanding quality. Employees handle fewer parts; this saves time and reduces labor costs.

Importance of Automation

Automation also increases precision. Robotic Press Brakes allow for tolerances of 0.002.” This amount of accuracy cannot be seen or gauged by the human eye. At Midwest Metal Products, we can install a full range of fasteners and terminals, utilizing the 12 automated and manual insertion machines that increase precision. Providing the highest standards in the aerospace industry, we use a Browne & Sharpe Coordinate Measuring Machine to verify our accuracy within 0.001’’. Another tool we use to verify the accuracy of the parts we send to our customers is a “FaroArm,” to look at formed dimensions accuracy within 0.005”.

Despite automation, we still have skilled employees running machines with excellent accuracy. Not only is the accuracy much more precise with employee-guided automation, but the production volume is faster using manual insertion machines. Across the industry, employees prep parts for the machines, run the machines, and complete the finishing steps.

The Need for Precision

The aerospace industry has much to learn about automation from the auto industry, as the volume of aircraft being produced is growing swiftly. Airbus, for example, recently invested $600 million in their Mobile, Alabama assembly line using robotic solutions. Their goal is to increase the production of the A320 to 60 planes per month, by 2019. Currently, they produce 42 a month, which is a huge increase considering producing one plane is no small task.

Airbus employees are still at the heart of its company. Automation simply helps employees boost their abilities and increase productivity. Automation can help companies to produce more but still allows you to keep key employees. The increase in production for commercial airplanes will help boost numbers for the A320. In 2016, the production of large commercial aircraft is estimated to be 1,420 across the world; this is an increase of 40.5% from five years ago.

Airbus’s increase in automation will impact all aerospace manufacturers, as well as part manufacturers. The impact will increase automation across the industry. It might not happen right away, but because one of the largest manufacturers of aircraft is becoming more automated, it will slowly trickle down.

Sheet Metal Fabrication for the Aerospace Industry

Aerospace manufacturers are looking for suppliers to improve the accuracy, speed, and automation of their robotic assembly lines. For suppliers, their robotic equipment needs to be flexible and not permanently fixed to the floor so the equipment can adapt to the environment.

At Midwest Metal Products, we can easily move the equipment to improve production flow. You and your business can trust us for all your aerospace sheet metal needs. Contact Midwest Metal Products today to learn how we can help you with your aerospace sheet metal fabrication needs.