KUKA Aerospace Group’s achievements in developing sophisticated control systems for the automated technologies to be used in assembling future Boeing 777s and 777X widebody aircraft have earned the company a 2015 Customer Excellence Award from Siemens.
The award, presented at the recent Siemens Automation Summit in Las Vegas, recognizes KUKA’s innovations using Siemens Digital Factory products to develop motion control and process control applications for operating robotic riveting systems for the Fuselage Automated Upright Build process, or FAUB. FAUB, developed by KUKA Aerospace in collaboration with Boeing, will be the baseline manufacturing process employed eventually in assembling the fuselage of the new 777X series, and prior to that for assembling current 777 models.
“A big part of automating airframe assembly is developing exceptional hardware solutions and the sophisticated control systems to adapt them seamlessly to the unique requirements of each project,” says Robert Reno, Group Vice President Aerospace, KUKA Systems North America LLC. “Winning this award says KUKA can do both exceedingly well, using the excellent hardware and software tools Siemens offers.”
FAUB represents the first time Boeing will use such highly automated technology to manufacture wide-body commercial airplanes. KUKA robots and end effectors will do much of the riveting currently performed by workers using handheld tools.
The control systems developed by KUKA for FAUB include production cell control of up to 58 axes, rapid roaming control of wireless clients on the Automated Guided Vehicle fleet carrying the robots, unique use of VLAN connections for pairing of robots and use of Siemens S7-1500 PLCs as an interface between the Siemens Simatic IT system and the factory floor PLCs. Key performance indicators for operator safety, assembly quality, model flexibility and optimized floor space were all improved and opened up new opportunities for technical skilled trades.