Tolerance Management as an Enabler for Human-Robot-Collaboration in a Semi-Automated Riveting Process 2019-01-1373
Large aircraft sizes and complex joining tasks combined with high precision requirements are typical challenges for aircraft production. To increase competitiveness and effectiveness, automation of such production processes seems a viable solution for companies in the aircraft sector. When implementing automation, in order to handle small batch sizes and high variation while meeting tight tolerances, the production equipment as well as the production process must meet high quality standards and flexibility requirements.
To achieve the objectives above, tolerance management is essential: deviations are acceptable within limits, as long as they do not result in quality losses and expensive rework. For these reasons, a detailed analysis of all the interactions between the product, the production process and the used production equipment must be done. The importance of this analysis is once again evident in assembly, where new technologies are used, such as (semi-) automation using Human-Robot-Collaboration, which, despite its innovative value, must be robust, within tolerances and have minimal deviations from the outset. However, current planning and optimization of deviations and tolerances lack properly developed methods and approaches.
This paper proposes a method for planning and implementing proper tolerances in assembly processes: characteristic trees and tolerance chains are simple methods to make tolerance management effective and attractive. The method combination promotes understanding of interactions and communication between all those involved in the development of products and their processes.
The developed methods are validated using a semi-automated riveting process, with Human-Robot-Collaboration, to complete a joining process in the assembly of the aft section. In this scenario the pressure bulk head is mounted to the section barrel by mean of hundreds of rivets. The intention is to implement a semi-automated production process to improve ergonomics, increase process traceability, efficiency, and minimize rework while meeting tolerance requirements.