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Technical Paper

Variation Aware Assembly Systems for Aircraft Wings

Aircraft manufacturers desire to increase production to keep up with anticipated demand. To achieve this, the aerospace industry requires a significant increase in the manufacturing and assembly performance to reach required output levels. This work therefore introduces the Variation Aware Assembly (VAA) concept and identifies its suitability for implementation into aircraft wing assembly processes. The VAA system concept focuses on achieving assemblies towards the nominal dimensions, as opposed to traditional tooling methods that aim to achieve assemblies anywhere within the tolerance band. It enables control of the variation found in Key Characteristics (KC) that will allow for an increase in the assembly quality and product performance. The concept consists of utilizing metrology data from sources both before and during the assembly process, to precisely position parts using motion controllers.
Technical Paper

Functional Modeling of 18-Pulse Autotransformer Rectifier Units for Aircraft Applications

This paper aims to develop a general functional model of multi-pulse Auto-Transformer Rectifier Units (ATRUs) for More-Electric Aircraft (MEA) applications. The ATRU is seen as the most reliable way readily to be applied in the MEA. Interestingly, there is no model of ATRUs suitable for unbalanced or faulty conditions at the moment. This paper is aimed to fill this gap and develop functional models suitable for both balanced and unbalanced conditions. Using the fact that the DC voltage and current are strongly related to the voltage and current vectors at the AC terminals of ATRUs, a generic functional model has been developed for both symmetric and asymmetric ATRUs. The developed functional models are validated through simulation and experiment. The efficiency of the developed model is also demonstrated by comparing with corresponding detailed switching models. The developed functional model shows significant improvement of simulation efficiency, especially under balanced conditions.
Technical Paper

Towards Self-Adaptive Fixturing Systems for Aircraft Wing Assembly

The aim of this work was to develop a new assembly process in conjunction with an adaptive fixturing system to improve the assembly process capability of specific aircraft wing assembly processes. The inherently complex aerospace industry requires a step change in its capability to achieve the production ramp up required to meet the global demand. This paper evaluates the capability of adaptive fixtures to identify their suitability for implementation into aircraft wing manufacturing and assembly. To understand the potential benefits of these fixtures, an examination of the current academic practices and an evaluation of the existing industrial solutions is highlighted. The proposed adaptive assembly process was developed to account for the manufacturing induced dimensional variation that causes significant issues in aircraft wing assembly. To test the effectiveness of the adaptive assembly process, an aircraft wing assembly operation was replicated on a demonstrator test rig.
Journal Article

Structural Quality Inspection Based on a RGB-D Sensor: Supporting Manual-to-Automated Assembly Operations

The assembly and manufacture of aerospace structures, in particular legacy products, relies in many cases on the skill, or rather the craftsmanship, of a human operator. Compounded by low volume rates, the implementation of a fully automated production facility may not be cost effective. A more efficient solution may be a mixture of both manual and automated operations but herein lies an issue of human error when stepping through the build from a manual operation to an automated one. Hence the requirement for an advanced automated assembly system to contain functionality for inline structural quality checking. Machine vision, used most extensively in manufacturing, is an obvious choice, but existing solutions tend to be application specific with a closed software development architecture.
Journal Article

Emerging Technologies for Use in Aerospace Bonded Assemblies

Several new technologies are now emerging to improve adhesive supply and formulation along with surface treatments that have the potential to offer significant improvements to both surface energy and cleanliness [3]. Additionally, the miniaturisation of laboratory techniques into portable equipment offers potential for online surface energy and chemical analysis measurement for use as quality control measures in a production environment. An overview of newly available technology is given here with several devices studied in further detail. Technologies assessed further in this paper are; portable surface contact angle measurement, ambient pressure plasma cleaning, portable FTIR measurement and adhesive mixing equipment. A number of potential applications are outlined for each device based on the operational technique. The practical aspects of implementation and the perceived technology readiness levels for operation, implementation and results are also given.
Technical Paper

A New Floating-Liner Test Rig Design to Investigate Factors Influencing Piston-Liner Friction

The largest contribution to engine rubbing friction is made by the piston and piston rings running in the cylinder liner. The magnitude and characteristics of the friction behaviour and the influence on these of factors such as surface roughness, piston design and lubricant properties are of keen interest. Investigating presents experimental challenges, including potential problems of uncontrolled build-to-build variability when component changes are made. These are addressed in the design of a new motored piston and floating liner rig. The design constrains transverse movement of a single liner using cantilevered mounts at the top and bottom. The mounts and two high stiffness strain gauged load cells constrain vertical movement. The outputs of the load cells are processed to extract the force contribution associated with friction. The liner, piston and crankshaft parts were taken from a EuroV-compliant, HPCR diesel engine with a swept capacity of 550cc per cylinder.
Technical Paper

Fixturing and Tooling for Wing Assembly with Reconfigurable Datum System Pickup

The aerospace manufacturing sector is continuously seeking automation due to increased demand for the next generation single-isle aircraft. In order to reduce weight and fuel consumption aircraft manufacturers have increasingly started to use more composites as part of the structure. The manufacture and assembly of composites poses different constraints and challenges compared to the more traditional aircraft build consisting of metal components. In order to overcome these problems and to achieve the desired production rate existing manufacturing technologies have to be improved. New technologies and build concepts have to be developed in order to achieve the rate and ramp up of production and cost saving. This paper investigates how to achieve the rib hole key characteristic (KC) in a composite wing box assembly process. When the rib hole KC is out of tolerances, possibly, the KC can be achieved by imposing it by means of adjustable tooling and fixturing elements.
Technical Paper

Diesel Injector Deposits - An Issue That Has Evolved with Engine Technology

Diesel engines have traditionally been favoured in heavy-duty applications for their fuel economy, robustness, reliability and relative lack of fuel sensitivity. Recently it has seen a growth in its popularity in light duty applications due particularly to its fuel efficiency. However, as the engine technology and particularly the fuel injection equipment has evolved to meet ever stricter emissions legislation the engines have become more sensitive to deposit formation resulting from changes in fuel quality. This paper reviews bouts of concern over diesel fuel injector deposits, possible causes for the phenomenon and test methods designed to screen fuels to eliminate problems.
Technical Paper

The Use of Vehicle Drive Cycles to Assess Spark Plug Fouling Performance

Spark plug fouling is a common problem when vehicles are repeatedly operated for very short periods, particularly at low temperatures. This paper describes a test procedure which uses a series of short, high-load drive cycles to assess plug fouling under realistic conditions. The engine is force cooled between drive cycles in order to increase test throughput. Spark plug resistance is shown to be a poor indicator of the effect of fouling on engine performance and the rate of misfiring is given as an alternative measure. An automated technique to detect misfires from engine speed data is described. This has been used to investigate the effect of spark plug type, fuelling level and spark timing on fouling. Spark plugs which are designed to run hotter are found to be more resistant to plug fouling. Isolated adjustments to fuelling level and spark timing calibrations within the range providing acceptable performance have a weak effect on susceptibility to plug fouling.