Technological advances have made it possible to advance assembly of aircraft from the days of “Rosie the Riveter” to automated manufacturing facilities of the future. Improvements in CNC controlled machines, called Positioners, and tooling, called End Effectors, have enabled the assembly process to pass from, two people, to robots working on opposite sides of a panel. Further developments with Multi-functioning End Effectors and stiffer more accurate Positioners have reduced the station to station cycle times of completely assembled panels.
New generation systems show even greater promise for, not only lower cycle times, but lower investment costs and higher reliability. The new generation systems consist of an advanced Rivet Feed System, for trouble free fastener feeding, an Automatic Part Feed System, for greater utilization of the Assembly Cell, a Double Ram Gantry, for stiffer more accurate end effector positioning, and Multi-function, like family/multi-diameter End Effectors, for increased reliability and reduced tool changes. Working in a cell where a Cell Controller interfaces with the Positioner’s CNC and the Rivet Feed System’s PLC, and a Host computer interfaces with design computers containing CADICAM data, the APAC System, Automated Panel Assembly Cell, becomes a flexible, low cost solution for the assembly of virtually all components for assembly.