Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-1875
2019-09-16

Identifying Virtuous Cycles of Using Real-Time Process Data in Portable Semi-Automated Electric Drilling 2019-01-1875

Purpose: Thanks to the long lifetimes of aerospace platforms, manufacturers face opportunities for improving the manufacturing processes of legacy products. However, the potential benefits of process innovations must be carefully balanced with the costs. One such opportunity is offered through portable semi-automated electric drilling. The purpose of this paper is to identify critical elements in building a business case for incorporating portable semi-automated electric drills on aerospace products and processes. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on institutional knowledge, we distinguish three entities in hole-generation tasks: hole types, hole-cutting tools, and hole-cutting assets (e.g. portable drills). We identify the specific needs, requirements and constraints in hole generation by focusing on each entity and the relationships between them. We then examine the implications of introducing sensor-equipped portable electric drills that allow real-time process data collection. Finally, we assess the impact of innovation in hole-cutting assets in general. Findings: It was found that the benefits of real-time process data collection can lead into a virtuous cycle where a first-order benefit can lead to multiple higher-order benefits. For example, provision of spindle power data allows accurate tracking of tool wear, which adds value due to longer tool lifespans and avoidance of catastrophic tool failure. This data can then be correlated with hole quality data, adding even more value by opening up the possibility of real-time tracking of hole quality. Practical implications: The approach proposed in this work allows us to identify potential virtuous circles from collecting real-time process data and to devise experiments to test them. Acknowledgment: The authors acknowledges the support of Airbus UK and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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