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Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Was the cabin door delivered as planned? Is it the same temperature as the fuselage? And does the installation work as intended? The installation of a cabin door is just one of many assembly processes used to manufacture an aircraft. However, it is so complex and demanding that Airbus is focusing on it as part of the iVeSPA research project, short for Integrated Verification, Sensors and Positioning in Aircraft Manufacturing. “We want to find out how we can automate our assembly and control it more leaner,” says Eugen Gorr, who is responsible for the development of innovative assembly processes at Airbus in Hamburg. “The processes involved in installing a car door are particularly suitable for determining which data we collect, how and where, how we process it, and how we can link it back to the assembly process in real time. Still, the car door is just one example. Other components can also be tracked. «New sensor and data processing concepts from the Fraunhofer IFF are intended to enable optimized process monitoring and its gradual integration into the assembly environment. The Magdeburg Institute developed the concepts on behalf of the aircraft manufacturer. The car door was selected as an example of an application scenario. In addition to the longitudinal alignment of the fuselage, the horizontal stabilizer adjustment and the assembly of the air mixer unit, this process is best suited. Sensors for the material trolley In the case of the cabin door, the material trolley (MDU), on which the door is transported from the supplier to the fuselage, became the focus of the solution. It was equipped with various sensors and data memories that provide the Airbus logisticians with relevant information at any time and anywhere during the entire process. For which aircraft is the door intended? Is it a left or a right door? Did something unusual happen while driving that it has to be checked again before installation? Has the door already warmed up to the temperature of the hull? Is it still on the MDU? Or has it already been installed? If so: Were there any deviations from the plan during installation? Could the digital recording of these deviations be used to improve and streamline the assembly process? ” Does Airbus have to inform the supplier about this? “So far, communication in the assembly halls has been based more on paper documents and shouts and less on electronic aids,” says Martin Woitag, scientist in the Measurement and Testing Technology business unit at the Fraunhofer IFF. “And since the feedback on the current production status is only given once a week, it is clearly decoupled from the time of its execution.” Mobile sensor box “AirBOX” enables sensor networkTo derive relevant information from the recorded data without delay, Woitag and his team developed the mobile »AirBOX« sensor box. It allows sensors to be interconnected to form a flexible network and events to be derived from the data that are required for process monitoring and ensure rapid action. The amount of data transmitted remains so small that the wireless network in the assembly hall is not loaded more than necessary. The AirBOX can be technically designed so that no additional modifications to the existing infrastructure are necessary. It is highly compatible with other systems and also more cost-effective than comparable solutions. Although it continuously records the position and temperature of the car door. However, it only sends a signal to the server when the sensor data has recorded two criteria. On the one hand, the correct position of the assembly area, on the other hand, reaching room temperature. Only now is the car door ready for assembly. Because it was not only delivered, but also warmed up to the level of the trunk. In principle, a single data bit is sufficient to inform Airbus about this event. »The AirBOX continuously collects a large number of production-related data from various sources. The required information about the cabin door is created through logical combination and rules, «emphasizes the engineer. The AirBOX in a mobile aluminum housing with LED status displays and freely definable input keys can be configured locally via PC cable or via the network. It uses the IoT standard MQTT protocol and encryption technologies. The sensor data and events are saved in a local database and visualized on the web. To set up the sensor network, up to six sensors can be connected to the box, which are automatically recognized and pre-configured. “The AirBOX opens up a wealth of digitization options for operational support in production,” says Woitag.Airbus and the Fraunhofer IFF are therefore already testing other applications. For example, the concept based on the AirBOX could help develop a visual assistance system for the process of joining the wing and fuselage.


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