The Background.

Eight aircraft wing spar assembly jigs were being controlled by an old unreliable hydraulic RAM system. Yearly maintenance exceeded over £100,000 and caused costly downtime to production.

An additional requirement from the customer was to implement a solution to a common operator error whereby the components were not being correctly clamped to the spar, resulting in holes being drilled incorrectly and leading to expensive repair work and in some cases even scrapping of an entire wing spar structure.

iTech were engaged to design and implement a more modern / reliable solution including an upgrade of the entire control system.

The Client:

One of the world's largest non-OEM designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial and defense aircraft. The company's core products include fuselages, pylons and wing components such as wing spars for the Airbus A320.

The Solution.

iTech were able to provide the client with a system that replaced the hydraulic RAMS with a Screw Jack solution with servo motor control capable of lifting the Spar ninety degrees to the required assembly position. In doing so, iTech replaced the existing control panel with a modern Siemens PLC, drives, safety system, LV control gear and a simplified push button and HMI operation.

The requirement for error proofing the component clamping process was solved by installing proximity sensors and LED lights at each station on the assembly jig to indicate to the operator whether or not the component was clamped correctly in position. Communication between the PLC and Proximity sensors / LED lights in the field was via IO Link.

The Benefits.

Installation and commissioning completed during a weekend shutdown period to reduce impact to production.

Yearly maintenance cost significantly reduced.

Improved system reliability resulting in mitigation of costly downtime.

Environmental consequences of hydraulic oil spillages no longer a concern.

Modern PLC system capable of providing site management and maintenance team with valuable diagnostics and feedback along with scope for future expansion.