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FLEXA

Advanced Flexible

Automation Cell

A research project within the European Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)

Five major aero engine and component manufacturers, together with six universities and four SME’s have joined their expertise and resources to reach beyond the current state-of-the-art in development of flexible automation cells for the European aero engine industry.

Overview

European industry is constantly under pressure to meet requirements on cost efficiency in competitiveness with the global manufacturing industry. The requirements on development in production is also introduced from demands on new product introduction, new materials used, new regulations on environment effects depending on production. At the same time, it is a fact that the products produced in the aeronautical industry are products produced with relatively low volume and will be in operation for 30 years, and some times even longer, before they go out of service. This puts strong requirements on the equipment specification when doing new investment in the production units. The main task in this project is to create a balanced production unit that is able to deliver a multi generation, multi size and multi product flow of components in the same production facility using and prioritising between the same physical machines.

 

In the automotive sector automation technology has been developed for a long time. It is the intention of this project to utilise the state of the art technology developed in the automotive area and to improve the aspect of flexibility, low volume, multi product and quality assurance aspects. 

To meet the requirements of flexibility, cost effectiveness and quality assurance the concept of the project will be to;

 

·         Validate methods and technologies for virtual manufacturing supporting definition, preparation and operation of flexible automation cells.

·         Define and verify requirements on quality assurance systems that will allow flexible automation cells to conform to aerospace industry regulations.

·         Integrate data flow inside the cell as well as in and out of the cell by introducing a Web-based data flow system that supports a truly virtual and distributed working environment.

·         Deliver tools that support knowledge engineering demands in shop floor activities with experience feedback to product innovation activity.

·         Validate capability of defined cell concept by building a physical validation platform.

·         Deliver education and safety instructions for personnel that will operate next generation flexible automation cells.

 

The consortium consists of 15 partners with different responsibilities and competences identified as necessary to develop the required methods and technology to be able to validate a next generation flexible automation cell for machining, fabrication and assembly of aerospace components.

 

The project started 1st of June 2008 and will end 31st of May 2012.

 

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Project co-funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)