A new paradigm in large-scale assembly—research priorities in measurement assisted assembly

The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, January 2014, Volume 70, Issue 1-4, pp 621-633.

P. G. Maropoulos, J. E. Muelaner,  M. D. Summers, O. C. Martin.Laboratory for Integrated Metrology Applications (LIMA), Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Bath, Bath, UK and Airbus, Filton, UK



This paper presents for the first time the concept of measurement assisted assembly (MAA) and outlines the research priorities of the realisation of this concept in the industry. MAA denotes a paradigm shift in assembly for high value and complex products and encompasses the development and use of novel metrology processes for the holistic integration and capability enhancement of key assembly and ancillary processes. A complete framework for MAA is detailed showing how this can facilitate a step change in assembly process capability and efficiency for large and complex products, such as airframes, where traditional assembly processes exhibit the requirement for rectification and rework, use inflexible tooling and are largely manual, resulting in cost and cycle time pressures. The concept of MAA encompasses a range of innovative measurement-assisted processes which enable rapid part-to-part assembly, increased use of flexible automation, traceable quality assurance and control, reduced structure weight and improved levels of precision across the dimensional scales. A full scale industrial trial of MAA technologies has been carried out on an experimental aircraft wing demonstrating the viability of the approach while studies within 140 smaller companies have highlighted the need for better adoption of existing process capability and quality control standards. The identified research priorities for MAA include the development of both frameless and tooling embedded automated metrology networks. Other research priorities relate to the development of integrated dimensional variation management, thermal compensation algorithms as well as measurement planning and inspection of algorithms linking design to measurement and process planning.

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