Kuka Aerospace and Lisi Aerospace have joined forces to develop a new fully automated system for one-sided assembly of aircraft structures, whether made of metal or composites. The centerpieces of this automated technology are a single Kuka six-axis robot with a multi-function end effector co-engineered with a newly developed Lisi Aerospace structural blind fastener. This highly advanced system, now available to customers, can perform all assembly functions from hole drilling to assembly control, including installation and removal of Lisi Aerospace temporary fasteners and the installation of Lisi Aerospace blind fasteners
“By combining our strengths, Kuka in aerospace automation and robotics and Lisi Aerospace in aerospace components, the two companies are able to offer shortened installation times with an end effector and fasteners specifically optimized for this system,” says Robert Reno, Group Vice-President, Kuka Aerospace. “It’s a robust and repeatable installation sequence ensuring a constant number of pairs installed per hour with the right level of quality assured by the latest electronic, real-time monitoring.”
One sided, automated assembly technology is something the aerospace industry has wanted for more than a decade, but until this breakthrough, the right technologies in terms of structural blind fastener and automation integration were unavailable. “With this new Lisi Aerospace and Kuka integrated assembly system, this step change is now possible, opening wide perspectives for our customers to reduce assembly time and cost,” says Jean-Louis Colders, CEO of Lisi Aerospace.
Kuka’s industry-leading, six-slot barrel multifunction end effector has been enhanced and adapted to handle a range of high end specific Lisi Aerospace fasteners in a fully automated sequencing by a single robot on the assembly line. These capabilities include pre-holes and final drilling, temporary fastener installation and removal, a fully automated supply of fasteners, electronic monitoring of the entire installation sequence, as well as blind fastener installation with or without the application of sealant. The six end effector slots house two blind fastener installation modules, a camera for precise positioning, a temporary fastener installation and removal module and a drilling module, with one slot left free for possible additional customization.