The European Aviation industry is preparing for a significant increase in production rates, while at the same time converting the entire production to more sustainable and environmentally friendly factories. Broetje-Automation Services is currently working with Airbus Aerostructures GmbH on a major retrofit campaign to prepare the Nordenham plant for the future. The aim of the retrofit project is to equip the existing fastening systems in Nordenham with modern technology, to ensure sustainable production through reduced resource consumption and increased safety in the future.
To pave the way for a more sustainable production system, retrofits offer great leverage to improve efficiency while reducing the environmental footprint. A retrofitted machine offers equal or even higher production efficiency than a completely new system. It saves time in manufacturing and reduces the environmental footprint by reusing parts of the system.
The modular design of Broetje-Automation’s fastening systems makes it possible to bring them up to the latest state of the art even after many years of operation. The planned measures will modernise the fastening systems at the Airbus Aerostructures plant in Nordenham with state-of-the-art technology, more efficient drive technology and a higher degree of automation.
One of the most important advantages of a retrofit is the increase in the productivity of the equipment. In addition to the renewal of the NC control, further developed tool changers with a higher degree of automation will be installed. The redesigned user interface ensures that the machine operator can operate the system even more easily and intuitively. Intelligent sensor-controlled monitoring systems and smart camera systems also improve the positioning speed and accuracy of production, ensuring better quality and even greater process reliability. In the event of possible process deviations, the system can intervene automatically.
Retrofits also bring the machines up to the latest safety standard in accordance with the applicable EU standards and thus ensure more personal and machine protection. After around 25 years of operation, many spare and wear parts are no longer available. During the retrofit campaign, such parts are replaced or updated, so that the system receives a lower maintenance intensity, which further reduces maintenance costs. The workpiece handling and positioning system will also be expanded.
With the retrofit, the NC programming must also be updated. This is where Broetje-Automation provides support with its SOUL OLPS Offline Programming and Simulation software. The system includes a precise digital twin of each machine, so that new NC programs can be fully simulated on the virtual fastening system before the first hole is drilled in the fuselage shell. The production start-up according to this first-time-right approach is thus not only accelerated, but also leads to cost savings and avoids errors in the startup phase.
The entire conversion project ensures that the system works optimally, reduces maintenance costs and increases safety – without the need for structural measures on the building envelope, e.g. new concrete foundations. Many machine parts can also be reused to support the circular economy, such as steel frame structures.
After the retrofit, the energy management of the system is at the same level as new machines would be. This ensures additional savings in energy consumption and always provides transparency about consumption and its development. This enables further optimization and contributes to cost savings and environmental protection in equal measure. Thus, there is a good lever for greater sustainability here – even with existing production facilities.
Source: Press release Broetje-Automation GmbH, 20.06.2023