April 2020 Winner:
Senior Mechanical Engineer,
U.S. Cargo Systems,
Goldsboro, North Carolina
How long have you been in the aerospace business? 8 years
How did you become interested in aircraft? My grandfather was in the Air Force.
What is your favorite aircraft and why? C-130. Growing up, we lived outside Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and C-130s flew over our house all the time. As a kid, when you looked up at the sky, that was the plane you saw.
CH-53K Project Engineer
Lockheed Martin Sikorsky
To enter the contest, visit https://www.aerospacemanufacturinganddesign.com/form/namethatplane/ and fill out the provided entry form. Only completed forms will qualify. A full set of rules is provided.
The entry deadline for this issue’s contest is July 2, 2020. Winners will be announced in the Aug/Sept 2020 issue.
Have fun, and good luck!
Look what Shawn won!
Enter today to win your own high-quality desktop aircraft replica!
One of the biggest challenges for integrating aerospace automation is small lot production sizes. Small lots and complex parts makes automation seem costly for minimal savings. However, there is a massive opportunity for manufacturers to begin integrating automation into their shops and start solving challenges – the lack of qualified engineers, high production costs, and limited productivity.
Methods Automation has been developing custom solutions to such challenges and has recently launched a standard automation solution in the RoboDrill Plus K. The small-footprint, built-on automation solution adds up to 68 tools and 60 pallets to any RoboDrill, allowing unattended milling of complex parts.2) What is the best way to incorporate automation in aerospace?
While there are several ways that a shop can begin to incorporate automation into their shop floor, the best way is to start by building on pre-existing infrastructure. Upgrading 3- or 4-axis machines with full 5-axis capabilities and seeing where robotics can be integrated into the current machine lineup is the quickest way to take advantage of limited floor space.3) What are the biggest benefits automation adds to your shop floor?
Increased productivity. By adding automation to your floor, you are able to decrease the number of steps and human intervention in any machining process which will save you time on setup and machining. Moving into lights-out manufacturing allows shops to run parts on all three shifts without incurring additional labor costs.
4) How does automation address the shortage of qualified engineers in the workforce?
Automation not only limits human intervention in the machining process with unattended and lights-out manufacturing, which lowers labor costs, it’s reshaping career trajectories. As more jobs open in automation and robotics, the industry can have natural workforce growth.
Training/education is a major focus of Methods. With every solution that goes out, we also spend time training our customers engineers on-site and at one of our eight technical centers across the U.S. We are also continually hosting educational tours where we expose educators and students to the advanced work being done in manufacturing today and show how you can make a career of it.5) What is the future of aerospace automation?
Successful shops are already implementing automation. As competition increases, we will see more automation – specifically, more robotics on shop floors that will be able to handle the low volume, complex, close-tolerance parts that makes the aerospace industry unique.For more information: www.methodsmachine.com
Chandler, Arizona-based AvAir has acquired Lufthansa Technik’s overstock of rotable spares inventory that includes 9,000 line items valued at $100 million. All parts are serviceable and come from the Lufthansa Airline Group and other Lufthansa Technik customer fleets. Most parts were maintained by the component maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) organization, Lufthansa Technik Component Solutions (LTCS).
Lufthansa Technik facilities in Germany will deliver components to AvAir facilities in Ireland and the United States by August 2020.
Under a profit-share agreement, Lufthansa Technik receives a share of the proceeds from the resold components.
With this transaction, AvAir has added commercial and regional aircraft material for Airbus A320, A320neo, A330, A340, A350, A380; Boeing MD-11, B737-NG, B737-MAX, B747, B757, B767, B777, B787; Bombardier CRJ; Embraer ERJ; and De Havilland DHC-8-400. The material will come with dual- or triple-release certification (FAA/EASA/CAAC) from Lufthansa Technik and a 12-month warranty.
More than 60% of manufacturing employees surveyed by MC Machinery Systems say the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed opportunities for innovation, most notably in collaborative manufacturing and automation. The biggest opportunities cited were collaborative manufacturing (29%), automation (21%), supply chain (17%), and virtual training/ education (14%.) We share these survey results and more in Gaining Altitude.
Isabel Florence, MC Machinery Systems’ marketing manager informs me the 29% figure for collaborative manufacturing is actually higher, because 10% of respondents chose all of the above.
“Collaborative manufacturing includes companies forming partnerships with other companies that may not have the same capabilities, bundling ideas, and working on improving processes rather than just keeping everything internal,” Florence says, adding, “It’s a great way for companies to expand their offerings by working with partners in the value chain network, rather than competing with them.”
Whether such collaboration outlives the pandemic remains to be seen, but the willingness to explore such options and seek complementary skills may prove essential for businesses to survive. And it’s nothing new. Aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have encouraged smaller companies to combine strengths to produce ready-to- install sub-assemblies that streamline aircraft production.
More than 350 people participated in the MC Machinery online survey between April 24 and May 1, 2020. The respondents represented manufacturers in aerospace, medical, automotive, and mold & die. They range from large companies to small job shops, with 86% of respondents working for or owning manufacturing companies with fewer than 200 employees. About half perform machining, the other half are in metal fabrication.
Not surprising, 82% of respondents were working on-site at essential businesses and 30% were manufacturing COVID-19-related products – personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilator parts, testing supplies, hand sanitizer, and hospital equipment.
“This survey illustrates how versatile and proactive the manufacturing industry is,” Florence says.
Additional findings: manufacturing companies’ sales have been most impacted by the pandemic, according to 48% of respondents, followed by production (25%) and supply chain (17%). Ten percent of respondents indicated sales, production, and supply chain were impacted equally.
There is some good news, too: 37% of survey respondents answered there will be a low, short-term negative impact on revenue from existing customers, while 38% said it’s too soon to tell, 20% expect a high, long-term negative impact, and 5% expect no impact.
Other areas for innovation are worth considering. Automation and robotics combined are perceived as opportunities for innovation, mentioned by 25% of all respondents – running the gamut from parts loaders to robotic arms performing complex tasks.
Emphasis on virtual training/education is another area to consider following the pandemic. While necessary now where personnel can’t travel or visit customers on-site, it’s shifted perceptions on how to do training in the future.
Florence says, “Some have signed up for refresher classes or to improve their skills. People are excited by it, we’ve gotten rave reviews from participants, so we’ll keep going and look to expand our remote training.” – Eric