Spirit AeroSystems, an aerospace company based in Wichita, Kansas, has announced it plans to incorporate a number of robotic hardware and software systems to inspect the company’s aerospace components. Wings, fuselages, substructures and other composite aerospace components will now have their complex quality assurance needs met by other robots, company engineers claim.
The move is said to be down to a need to increase the speed of checks. Aerospace components are intricate and assuring the quality of each piece can be an arduous process. "Either cooperatively or independently, the robots automatically inspect complex composite parts up to 200 feet long, dramatically reducing the time required for inspection – sometimes up to 40% faster," remarked Mike Grosser, Spirit's lead non-destructive inspection engineer. "Analysis of the results is achieved through advanced phased array digital signal processing, which can be automated through machine learning."
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The move has also been attributed to a need to increase flexibility by robotics today, "Typically, inspections for meeting customer requirements have been done by large, fixed systems that are difficult to adapt to new applications," explained Dan Caughran, VP of global quality at AeroSystems. "Our new approach is built around two industrial robots that can interchange among seven different sensors and multiple inspection methods. In short, had this technology not been available, we would have had to rely on solutions of far less flexibility and roughly twice the cost."