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Industry 4.0 in the Aerospace industry

Industry 4.0, also known as The Fourth Industrial Revolution, is making its way through every manufacturing industry, and aerospace is no exception. In general, however, the aerospace industry has been slower to adopt some of Industry 4.0’s key features, such as making the transition from traditional assembly methods to automated methods, and the use of intelligent (and battery-operated) tools.

This is where Atlas Copco enters the picture, to partner with and guide aerospace manufacturers through the switch to the Industry 4.0 mindset. Products and solutions to support this transition include “smart” tools with visual guidance and operator feedback capabilities, data collection software for error-proofing, and more.

A brief background

The reluctance to implement Industry 4.0 in aerospace manufacturing facilities becomes an issue when we factor in the incredible production backlog and the exponential growth projected to occur within this industry. In 2015, it was estimated that the current backlog of aircraft orders and production will take nearly 10 years to complete at current production rates.

To add to this, experts within the industry estimate that 35,000 aircraft will be in the sky by 2035.

To keep pace with the production boom currently taking place, implementation of Industry 4.0 will be key. The aerospace industry and manufacturing facilities around the world are expected to speed up production rates while maintaining and even increasing quality levels. This can be done with the correct tooling, increased quality assurance, and error-proofing practices put in place.

Riveting at SAS Components with RRH and RBB

The building blocks of Industry 4.0 in the aerospace industry

Smart Connected aerospace tools

The use of intelligent battery-operated tools – such as the EBB26 drill designed for aircraft assembly, or the Atlas Copco Tensor range of cordless assembly tools – supports operators as they acclimate to the changes brought on by Industry 4.0. The EBB26 battery drill gives operators essential feedback through LED, cutting costly mistakes due to human error while increasing productivity and hole quality.

In addition to providing your operators with an intelligent tool, making the switch from pneumatic to cordless tools clears valuable floor space from hazardous air hoses. What’s more, operators can reach places once inaccessible to a pneumatic drill with their newfound cordless freedom.

Quality Assurance on the line

Another piece of the puzzle that is Industry 4.0 in the aerospace industry is quality assurance and control. The peace of mind that Atlas Copco’s Quality Assurance (QA) Platform 4.0 comes in the form of software, tooling, data collection devices, and more. In this product line, our solutions guarantee accuracy and repeatability through a number of different tests, or checks, such as in-line tool checks, non-torque checks, and joint simulation tool checks.

Atlas Copco’s STbench is a Smart Connected joint simulation bench that replicates the real joint characteristics in real operating conditions without interfering with the production process. Through a touch screen interface and LEDs, operators are guided through the joint simulation test that guarantees the same precise results that you want over and over. In an industry expected to increase production quality, sound quality assurance practices are crucial to the adoption of Industry 4.0 in the aerospace industry.

Error-proofing through data collection software

And finally, Industry 4.0 in the aerospace industry leans heavily on data collection and software that supports that. In addition to providing the ability to trace your data, software such as ToolsNet 8 or Scalable Quality Solution (SQS3) gives you the capability to collect data and search for trends, optimizing the assembly process.

ToolsNet 8 is a data collection and process improvement software that connects to Atlas Copco Smart Connected tools. It works with standard web browsers and boosts productivity by monitoring, documenting, and continuously improving the tightening process of your assembly line. SQS3 is an error-proofing software that guides operators through the assembly process and leaves no room for human error or oversight through part verification strategies and a user-friendly interface.

Worker standing in front of airplane with LSF12 die grinder in hand

Ready to make the switch to Industry 4.0?

Atlas Copco is here and eager to help your aerospace manufacturing facility implement Industry 4.0. With our battery-operated tools that offer essential feedback, our QA Platform 4.0 line that brings you the peace of mind you need, and our data collection software programs for error-proofing, Industry 4.0 in the aerospace industry is at the tip of your fingers.

If you’re ready to make the switch, contact us today.