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Factory of the Future
A virtual tour

In this series of animations, we reveal how we are using the latest technologies, from additive manufacturing to augmented reality and collaborative robots, to revolutionise the way fighter aircraft are produced.
Work is underway to create a ‘Factory of the Future’ at our Warton site in Lancashire, to showcase our capabilities in advanced manufacturing.
 
Some of the technologies to be introduced, including digital work instructions, will be brought into Typhoon production this year, proving the technology in an operational environment and paving the way for future aircraft manufacture.     
 
James Ritchie, Technology Strategy Lead for BAE Systems Air, said: “We believe that when this facility opens later this year, it will be the first of its kind in the world for aircraft manufacturing.
Whilst some of the technologies are already in use today, it is the level of integration that really sets this facility apart. This facility demonstrates a real step change in our manufacturing capabilities that ensure we, as a company and on behalf of the UK, maintain our position as a world-class manufacturer.”
 
 

 
From the manufacture of small components to the assembly of a full airframe, the three animations demonstrate our vision for aircraft manufacturing in the future.
 
The ‘collaborative workstation’, a key feature of the Factory of the Future, is fitted with a range of digital technologies that allows engineers to focus on highly-skilled tasks, adding greater value to the manufacturing process. Integrated sensors will identify each worker and automatically load optimised individual profiles using wireless technology – delivering cues and instructions to suit the working expertise of each user and ensuring the role is carried out safely.   
 
The workstation features light-assisted assembly, with ‘pick by light’ technology prompting the user towards the correct components or consumables during the manufacturing process. It also features a sensor-enabled cobotic arm, to work safely and seamlessly alongside manufacturers building high-tech systems for cutting-edge combat aircraft.  
 
This new digital factory is a result of close collaborative working with a number of academic and industry partners including the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Siemens. It builds on existing investments in robotics and aims to drive further productivity, quality and safety improvements into the company’s manufacturing capabilities for future fighter aircraft.