To manufacture parts for individual aircraft across international locations - such as the tail in one country and the fuselage in another - we need to carefully control the temperature and humidity of our facilities in Lancashire. Consistent temperature and humidity are vitial for aircraft manufacture, since aluminium panels flex and stretch if they change. By keeping conditions consistent, we can more easily make panels fit together, that ensures quality, affordability and pace in the delivery programme.
However, with our more flexible factory, we can now use 5G connectivity and machine learning to dynamically adjust the position of the machines to allow for variations in temperature and humidity, machining parts so they are the correct shape and specification for a given set of environmental conditions. So that we know the exact position of machines and their tooling, we use 3D metrology systems and an array of other sensors to continually monitor the machine and environment providing data to the machine learning algorithms. This way, we no longer need to heat the entire hangar, so are reducing both CO2 and energy usage.
This is only possible because of our work to digitise our design process, which has also allowed us to iterate designs more quickly against known manufacturing constraints, reducing cost and time. This will help us meet our commitment to building Tempest, a Future Combat Air System, faster and at lower cost.
We've already proven this new design approach by producing a test part for a concept front fuselage section this way. It was designed using a Siemens design tool integrated across both design and manufacturing, allowing us to continually assess a design's ability to be manufactured and assembled.
Historically, the limitations inherent in assembly drive your your decisions as soon as you start the design process. Greater flexibility in assembly allows your greater freedom in your design. Austin Cook, Principal Technologist for Emerging Manufacturing Technologies, BAE Systems Air
To make all this happen, we've been working with a host of universities including the University of Nottingham, the University of Manchester, University of Strathclyde and Cranfield University as well as the UK's Digital Manufacturing Centre in Silverstone.

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Tom Bell
Communications Advisor

(+44) 3300 493890