3D animated work instructions, augmented reality and the use of headsets are being harnessed to help drive further efficiencies.
A smart gantry system provides digital and connected technology for the production of components.
Equipped with projectors that can live-track the build of avionic trays for the Typhoon aircraft, the gantry helps guide the operator in the process they are carrying out.
Designed for larger parts in the Typhoon aircraft assembly process, the gantry builds on the successful introduction of the intelligent workstation developed with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and extends the team ability to use technology on larger scale components and assemblies.
The gantry projector system puts the right information in front of the operator, actually on the part, it may also be colour coded, all to provide clear point of use instructions.
The gantry design has been ‘future proofed’ just like the Typhoon aircraft to enable upgrading.
The use of tablets that provide augmented reality information is also making things clearer for the production line worker and more intuitive to understand.
Headsets help operators work hands free
When it comes to working in confined spaces on the airframe, newly developed headsets allow the fitter or electrician to work hands free, with the information they need projected in front of them or overlayed onto the ‘real world’.
Much of this innovation is being born on the shop floor, with apprentices and time-served operators working together in developing, testing and also getting feedback which can be used to further hone the technology.
They allow the fitter or electrician to work hands free, with the information they need projected in front of them or overlayed onto the ‘real world’.
Neelofar Ansari, a Senior Manufacturing Engineer helped to introduce the technology and said: “The labels they need to put in place as part of the process are overlayed, so the operator doesn’t need to keep continually referring back to drawings. Here they can see it all in front of them.”
The development of the technology originated from a challenge set by the operators to provide a solution to this difficult activity. She says “When operators start using the technology and we begin to get the feedback, that’s when the project becomes really exciting, you find out how best to improve the technology to work for the operators and the job at hand.”
The project has its roots in BAE Systems' ‘Factory of the Future’ initiative where technologies are developed and often implemented in other areas of the business.
Key supply chain partners in the smart gantry system include UK-based Systems Integration specialists Fairfield Control Systems and French company Diota, a leading software provider in augmented reality solutions and the developers of the projection systems being used.