Robotic Drilling and Milling of Composite/Metallic Inboard Flaps on the Boeing 777 Program 941834

This paper reviews the steps followed in evaluating and selecting the “right” automated assembly approach for the drilling and milling of flap (or wing type) composite assembly structure.
We formed a task team led by our New York Manufacturing Technology Operations to propose and review all feasible approaches. After evaluating and selecting an approach, an ROI for justification of an automated second stage assembly cell was prepared and subsequently approved by management.
The team then prepared the User and Purchase specifications for bidding. A gantry robot system was chosen and purchased in 1992 from Cimcorp (PaR Systems). It was installed in the Grumman Stuart Florida facility in 1993. Now, one year after starting production of the 777 inboard flaps, we are evaluating the process.
This paper emphasizes the importance of preparing a thorough specification and recognizes acceptance tests and training as being key elements in a successful implementation. The approach taken exemplifies the fact that today, automated assembly equipment, controlled by extensive software, is available with capabilities that were not possible only a few years ago. This improvement in assembly technology saves assembly time, lessens the amount of rework, and, decreases the time required to get a new operation successfully up and running.


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