GKN Aerospace

Assembly Line

A.I. Fuels Aerospace Manufacturing Automation

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Ilene Wolff

🏭 Vertical: Aerospace

🏢 Organizations: GKN Aerospace, GrayMatter Robotics, GE Aerospace, Otto Motors


In a quest to find automated process solutions for its production of aircraft transparencies (windows and canopies), U.K.-based GKN Aerospace Services Ltd. worked for 10 years with experienced automation integrators using off-the-shelf robots and controls. Despite its efforts, the number of failed systems configured “well outnumbers” the successful deployments, according to Martin Philo, principal research engineer. GrayMatter’s experts agreed with the aerospace supplier’s conclusion that providing a robot as a complete solution along with software for off-the-shelf robotics were the sources of failure in previous projects. Its Scan&Sand technology uses optical scanning and custom, physics-informed A.I.-driven software to support industrial robotic arms mounted on a gantry and equipped with an abrasive tool. Based on initial estimates, Scan&Sand will increase productivity by completing a part in less than four hours, giving GKN Aerospace’s production a boost by a factor of three or four. In addition, automation has the potential to significantly reduce its scrap, repair, and rework costs associated with sanding, which can reach $5 million yearly.

While Otto Motors builds its AMRs to offer customers the best total cost of ownership, longest life, and highest uptime, its real power lies in its software. The technology behind Rendall’s description is appealing: The fleet management software is one of the biggest reasons why customers choose Otto over its competitors, he said. “It’s the fleet management software that interfaces your AMR fleet into your manufacturing execution system, your SCADA system, your PLC network,” he said. “It is what gives you seamless, end-to-end integration and handoff of materials from a piece of processing equipment to a material transport solution like ours.”

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