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The Next Generation Composite Wing (NGCW) sees 17 industrial partners, led by Airbus, join forces in an aviation research and development project. Among the partners is Dassault Systèmes DELMIA, which is contributing to the £103m project initiated by the Technology Strategy Board.
NGCW is designed to keep Britain at the forefront of aircraft wing innovation development by ensuring that the UK is competent and well equipped to maximise the use of weight saving composite materials in future wing design and development. The skills and capability to design and manufacture in composite materials is vital in the aerospace industry, helping to improve efficiency and performance while lowering both operating costs and gaseous emissions through burning less fuel.
Hyde Group deploys Delmia within NGCW to evolve flow-line production methodologies that allow up to 40 sets of wings to be produced per month. Richard Waring, Hyde Group Technical Director, explained “Demand for composite wings, especially for single aisle aircraft, will grow beyond current supply capability so new methods are being developed to ensure that demand can be met. Traditional build systems used for aluminium wings are unworkable for carbon fibre wings so a modular approach using robot technology and ‘off-the-shelf’ automotive-style flowline solutions are being perfected for this application.”
Richard continued “Pulsed manufacturing methods are optimised using Delmia with component handling and mechanical operations fully modelled and simulated in kinetic 3D. By taking a modular approach, using robotic systems, manufacturing flowlines are developed. Operational sequencing and full simulation of robotic activity allows us to programme the robots and indeed design the whole flowline at the outset of product design.”
“This means that our ultimate goal of defining the exact workload at the outset of design comes closer.” Richard added
Hyde says they are continuing the process of refining manufacturing production systems that are near perfect by the time processes need to start. All aspects of the system are detailed in 3D, defining a virtual environment that reflects the precise needs of this exacting industry.
Richard added “DELMIA allows us to time-code robotic cell sequences and iterate them according to alterations in design and procurement programme phases. We are interdependent with, but not reliant on others finishing their work before our starts. This means that the physical production environment will be available earlier and will hold no surprises. The cost analysis benefit of alternative ‘what-if’ methodologies is available prior to production commencing. Balancing lines produces further savings. Less standing-idle is an immediate benefit through better time management over labour and capital equipment.”
For the NGCW programme Hyde interfaces with architects, exchanging 3D data to understand both present and evolving building facility requirements. Richard noted “With DELMIA data available to them, architects are able to design for future production scenarios, reduce energy needs and make better use of smaller factories.”
Hyde explains that Delmia allows Hyde to digitally investigate details of production flow including for example, automated carbon fibre deposition taking into account variable material thickness and fibre direction. They say that accurate assessments can be made, and informed decisions taken on processes, and the cost and time implications of their adoption. Delmia has helped Hyde develop one-step assembly processes that digitally prove a technology for a process in advance of its physical deployment; incorporating full cost breakdown.
Richard commented “Because we are able to predict best fit and quickest fit in relation to several potential manufacturing techniques, risk is reduced. Designers are able to perceive and consider the constraints of manufacturing, at the design phase, removing risk from later stages. The savings that are available from using Delmia reduce overall costs by taking time out of processes and making better use of resources. Time lines arrive quicker because programming can start earlier. Re-designs are easily accommodated in the safe and secure data environment that the software provides.”
“Designs also take on a new dimension with carbon fibre since it offers design possibilities beyond those using aluminium”. Says Richard, “Deploying Delmia we have developed ways to manufacture spars, ribs and covers for wings that are fully optimised, and retain the precise design specifications of the digital original.”
Richard Waring concluded, “The level of production programming and engineering decision support that we achieve with DELMIA allows us to investigate, fully assess and refine manufacturing methodologies in the assurance that costs and waste are minimised while optimised production techniques is always deployed.”
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