Small aerospace parts manufacturers must deliver on time, every time. Poor delivery performance can impact the major contractors they supply and jeopardize the contracts they receive. Worse, major contractors and the Department of Defense (DOD) grade aerospace parts makers on meeting delivery deadlines. Accurate, realistic scheduling is essential.
However, traditional scheduling techniques are often an obstacle. Many shops organize their production to maximize capacity, filling as many machines and people with work as possible. Unfortunately, prioritizing productivity often misses true priorities – parts that need to leave the shop to make it to a customer on time.
Traditional scheduling systems play back a static schedule calculated at an earlier time. On the other hand, Protected Flow Manufacturing (PFM) software from LillyWorks examines each available production order and determines which cannot afford to wait longer. Users create a framework for each job that includes manufacturing steps needed to complete the part and due date for shipment. The system minimizes work in production (WIP), simplifying operations. Jobs stay off of the job floor, entering WIP only as they gain priority as the due date approaches.
Cloud-based PFM simulates the effect of issues that impact resource capacity and material availability that are likely to occur in the future – machine bottlenecks, personnel constraints, equipment issues. It uses bill of material, production routing, available capacity, and inventory data to present solutions that allow the user to adapt to the issues that occur. Together, execution and predictive capabilities enable custom, make-to-order manufacturers to deliver to their customers as originally promised.
Reduce WIP 30% to 40%
Shorten manufacturing lead times
Improve on-time delivery
The system augments existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. PFM integrates with most ERP systems, taking over the scheduling function while the larger program handles cost, financials, and inventory control.
Aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operators continually seek new ways to improve the performance and longevity of turbines, flight control systems, landing gear, and hydraulics. Components must withstand erosion, corrosion, extreme temperatures, high loads, and metal-on-metal contact.
Additionally, suppliers are seeking new ways to increase the operational performance and fuel efficiency of aircraft through refinements in component and system design, materials, and coatings. Minor factors, such as compressor blade surface finish, can increase the fuel economy in high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines.
This is putting renewed attention on coating, plating, or nitriding options that modify the surface of critical components to improve wear and corrosion resistance while providing the required coefficient of friction for metal-on-metal contact or erosion resistance necessary for optimum airflow in gas turbines.
This comes at an opportune time, given the industry’s transition from hard chromium plating to more environmentally friendly alternatives. Once standard for wear and corrosion protection, European Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) rules have highly regulated hard chrome plating.
Thin film coatings applied by physical vapor deposition (PVD) and plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) and other techniques such as nitriding are filling this void, providing greater durability than hard chrome plating while providing similar functional properties.
Thin film coatings
Approved and field-tested, PVD and PACVD can deposit thin film coatings to harden the surface of components, increasing component lifespan while reducing maintenance and downtime.
Typically 1µm to 5µm thick, and up to 25µm for specific erosion-resistant properties, coating tolerances can be as low as ±0.5µm across a surface. Thin layers, in conjunction with close tolerancing, means that the component retains its form, fit, and dimensions after coating without re-machining.
Oerlikon Balzers’ Balinit Turbine Pro PVD coating is designed to protect engine compressor blades, vanes, or integrated bladed rotors (blisks) from erosion, pollution, and corrosion. Previously, these blades often went unprotected.
“In the aircraft industry, the goal is to reduce fuel use as much as possible,” explains Oerlikon Balzers Global Aerospace Segment Manager Toby Middlemiss. “Manufacturers often polish compressor blades and blisks to mirror finishes. This increases airflow through the engine, which ultimately increases fuel efficiency.”
As blades foul in service, compression system efficiency eventually drops.
“Debris particles in the air erode the surface finish of the blades. They begin to get a matte finish and ultimately lose performance,” Middlemiss says. “By applying [Balinit Turbine Pro] coating, you can maintain the highly polished surface finish and retain the efficiency gain.”
Balinit Turbine Pro uses a metal aluminum nitride (MeAlN) structure that balances high hardness and residual compressive stress, even under high thermal conditions. It can be applied to steels, super alloys, and titanium components and has surface roughness as fine as 0.05Raµm once the process is applied.
Balinit Turbine Pro hardness has been demonstrated in solid particle, liquid droplet, liquid cavitation, waterjet, and other erosion tests with the coating on various substrates (steel, Inconel, and titanium) in different coating thickness and high temperatures.
In the solid particle erosion test, in which materials were evaluated based on mass loss, Balinit Turbine Pro demonstrated more than 4x higher erosion protection than titanium nitride (TiN) and other PVD coatings – more than 40x when compared to uncoated titanium.
Chrome plating alternative
Hard chrome plating has been consistently used to protect aerospace components from fretting, corrosion, and wear. However, carcinogenic hexavalent chromium salts used in hard chrome plating spurred the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the EU (REACH) to impose tight restrictions on chromium and cadmium plating.
Existing chromium and cadmium plated parts will need to be replaced, and new parts will need to be manufactured using environmentally safe materials.
Some OEMs have attempted to replace hard chrome-plated steel with uncoated, hardened stainless steel, but stainless steel has poor low-frictional wear and sliding properties.
Another option, tungsten carbide-based thermal sprays, often require considerable post-coating processing and grinding, which drive up costs. On thin-walled parts, thick thermal spray coatings can also result in unwanted stresses and distortions of the components.
Balinit C, a tungsten carbide/carbon (WC/C) ductile carbide carbon of the diamond-like carbon (DLC) family (a-C:H:Me) coating provides wear and scuffing resistance while reducing wear and friction for bearings, shafts, and pins used in landing gear and engine mounts.
Balinit C coating has a high load-bearing capacity, even during dry contact or low lubrication conditions. A low friction coefficient reduces pitting and fretting corrosion on sliding or moving parts on an aircraft, such as on actuators, compressors, and pumps.
Bearings are another component that suffer from severe and disproportionately distributed abrasive wear. Balinit C is suitable for case-hardening as well as ball- and roller-bearing steels because it can be applied at temperatures lower than 200°C.
The PVD coating can be applied to inner and outer races and cylinders and the balls in ball bearings in a uniform coating thickness of 0.5µm to 1µm. A slight increase in roughness is offset by the burnishing qualities of the coating, which smooth the raceway of the inner and outer rings, providing additional protection against scuffing and pitting.
“Given the ever-increasing performance requirements and lighter construction for the next generation of aircraft, along with the environmentally friendlier concepts for operation and maintenance, there are greater requirements on the components and tools,” Middlemiss says. “PVD and PACVD coatings are an effective means to improve operational performance, reduce operational costs, extend operating hours, and reduce maintenance intervals.”
Honing and lapping have been widely thought of as manual, low production processes, highly dependent on skilled operators. But today’s honing and lapping systems are highly automated and produce consistent, repeatable bore geometry with tolerances almost too small to measure. This presentation will discuss the rapid advances in honing and lapping, including bore geometry, surface tribology (plateau finishes, bearing ratios), burr conditions (torn and folded metal), and edge condition.
Sunnen Products Co. is the world’s largest vertically integrated manufacturer of systems for precision bore sizing and finishing, including automated and manual honing systems, custom system development and integration, abrasives, tooling, lubricants, and bore gaging. The company recently introduced the SHD series skiving and roller burnishing system, an alternative bore sizing and finishing process for certain high stock- removal applications. And with the acquisition of the BTA Heller line of deep-hole tooling and systems, Sunnen is positioned to offer complete bore sizing solutions from the creation of the primary hole to the final bore finish specifications.
Founded in 1924 by Joseph Sunnen in St. Louis, Missouri, the company has concentrated on the advancement of bore sizing technology and related equipment for industrial applications and automotive engine rebuilding shops. The mission has always been to keep pace with the needs of customers in the processing of new materials and new requirements for high volume production while maintaining the highest standards of precision. Our latest generation of advanced systems, tooling, and abrasives has taken bore sizing and finishing to an unprecedented level of sophistication and precision, leaving us well-positioned for future growth in domestic and international markets.
While still headquartered in the U.S., Sunnen employs more than 650 people worldwide, with offices, manufacturing and tech support facilities throughout Europe, the U.K., China, Brazil, and India.
Topic Track: Process Innovations Session Topic: The Blue Arc Metal Removal Process Update: A Case Study in the Benefits of Vendor Collaboration
In today’s current manufacturing environment, we are facing more complicated, multi-discipline processes. We are addressing these complicated challenges with a dwindling resource base. The ever-growing skills gap will force us to work differently in the future and the future is NOW. In the past, a company would purchase a machine, an engineer would design a fixture, another would select a tooling suite, another would create the part program, and the facilities manager would dictate the coolant used in the machine. All of these individually selected resources would come together, and the manufacturer would hope for the best. Today’s complex processes dictate a different approach. How can a deep dive into intense collaboration result in dramatic reductions in cost of manufacture and increased process reliability? An interesting case study will be shared about the GE/Mitsui Seiki partnership in the revolutionary Blue Arc process – along with an update on its applications – and suggestions for how to effectively collaborate in an era of scarce resources.
Mitsui Seiki USA Inc., Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui Seiki Kogyo Co. Ltd. Established in 1928 as the first company in Japan to produce precision measuring instruments, in 1938 it became the first to create ultra-precise machine tools. Mitsui Seiki has acquired a world-renowned reputation for accuracy in its machine tools. Its product line is comprised of CNC horizontal and vertical-spindle machining centers with up to 5+ axes, CNC jig-boring and jig-grinding machines, and CNC thread-grinding machines. In the last decade, the company has focused on the research and development of machine tool technologies for the aerospace, power generation, and mold & die industries.
The optimal machining of hard metals has been a concentrated effort. Mitsui Seiki has the most current and thorough knowledge of triple nickel titanium (Ti 5553] Ti-Aluminate (TiAl]. and the newer Titanium Beta 21 machining. Its technical experts have been travelling around the world, sharing this compelling, practical knowledge regarding optimal, efficient, and profitable methods for machining challenging materials. The company is also leading development of new hybrid machine tools and the Blue Arc platform.
In addition to sharing its expertise in hard metal machining and how to achieve high volumetric accuracies and why it’s important, the company will highlight a Hybrid Vertical Machining & Grinding Center as well as a 5-axis Vertical Machining Center.
A global company with 136,600 employees and $72 billion in annual revenue, Airbus doesn’t produce the majority of what it sells – 70% of its content comes from its suppliers. Currently, it produces parts or assembles aircraft in France, Germany, Spain, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, depending on local manufacturers for support in each of those locations. In North America, Airbus spends $15 billion with more than 1,000 suppliers, supporting more than 220,000 jobs. Although the company’s supply chain spans the globe, the U.S. contribution is growing.
Airbus has more than 12,000 active suppliers for commercial aircraft worldwide. In the last 15 years, North America has become the most important region for sourcing outside of Europe.
At the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (www.pnaa.net) 2018 Conference, Lynnwood, Washington, Airbus executives described the company’s priorities in qualifying supply chain partners.
Pierre-Laurent Mace, vice president of strategic procurement for North America, heads the regional sourcing office supporting all Airbus divisions in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. He’s been in his current position since April 2016.
“Suppliers enable us to deliver the quality, on time, on cost,” Mace says. “We need to buy from companies that enable us to satisfy our customers, who have very high expectations. With the complexity of our products, we need more of our suppliers close to those facilities, to set up shop, to create jobs, to be able to support our customers.”
A team of about 80 in Mace’s division work with local suppliers. Many are global but have a local presence. This is important when a challenge arises in the design.
“We buy 70% of our planes, so we cannot afford to have surprises on the sourcing and delivery of parts,” Mace emphasizes. “We need to develop trust and reliability, and to manage a partner relationship to adapt permanently to the market evolution and the airlines’ expectations.”
Giuseppe (Joe) Marcheschi is Airbus Americas’ head of North American strategic procurement support, with responsibility for commodities relating to aerostructures, raw materials, detailed parts, fabrication, standard parts, fasteners, and flight simulaton. He’s been based in Herndon, Virginia, since 2013.
“What are we looking for in the supply chain?” he asks. “Any good supplier should know his customer well and know we at Airbus are looking at a ramp-up situation. A supplier – and the supply chain supporting it – should be planning to meet the ramp-up.”
At the end of May 2018, Airbus’ backlog of jetliners remaining to be delivered stood at 7,153 aircraft, representing approximately nine years of production at current rates.
Marcheschi adds, “The airlines demand flexibility and that we incorporate changes rapidly. You need to plan how you are going to deal with change. A good supplier should know where Airbus is investing in technology, and not wait for us to adopt it and then not have the capacity available to us when we need it.”
Becoming a supplier
“What do we need?” Marcheschi weighs in with his list.
On-time delivery – “Some people think 100% on-time delivery is a target. It’s not a target, it’s the baseline, it’s the rule.”
There will be challenges for us and you, and you need to adjust, find ways to be more competitive and lean in your manufacturing process.” – Joe Marcheschi, Head of Strategic Procurement Support, Airbus Americas
Quality – “Quality is a given. It has to be. We cannot accept quality failures.”
Costs – Be creative and propose solutions for cost options. “We’re leaders in our field, and we strive every single day to find ways to reduce costs. As leaders in your own domain, you [suppliers] need to do the same thing. To sell more aircraft, we have to remain cost competitive. You have to evolve to lower costs. We expect you to invest in your people, infrastructure, and supply chain management.”
Intellectual property, aftermarket – “We’re paying a lot more attention to these, and we need to participate together to support our customers – the airlines – prepare the right solution, the right packages, and manage spares and repairs properly. We’re getting more involved with maintenance, repair, and overhauls, and setting up bases to support our aircraft in Asia-Pacific, the U.S., and Europe.”
Supply chain management – You are responsible. “Manage your suppliers properly. The failure may not be yours, but at a level or two below you.”
Ramp-up – Demonstrate sufficient capacity to meet demand for parts. “We’re feeling the pressure to deliver more aircraft every year, so we have to deliver a lot of parts. We’re in a ramp-up mode, and we need the supply chain to understand that they need to follow us.”
Innovation – “Find disruptive innovations. Be ready to adopt them, to follow us. Don’t be stuck in the past. You’ve got to be thinking cloud and beyond. That’s what we mean by innovation,” Marcheschi says. “Becoming a world-class leader in your industry is not just buying the next machine and telling us, ‘Hey I’ve bought a new machine.’ That’s part of the solution, but not the whole solution. Look at your company, organization, and the whole process. How can you innovate, streamline, lean it out? Everyone has to make a commitment in your company, from the president to the shipping room. These are the suppliers we want to talk to.”
Tale of two suppliers
Marcheschi cited an example of a meeting where prospective Supplier A bragged about how many machines he had, how many approvals, how many materials he worked on, and other positive aspects.
“Finally, he gets to saying he’s 95% on-time delivery, with 98% quality. Those are pretty good numbers, but millions of parts are delivered to Airbus every day,” he explains. “We’d have total chaos if every one of our 12,000 suppliers delivered 95%, on-time, 98% quality sometime in the year – there’d be shortages every single hour on our assembly lines. That’s unacceptable where we’re going with build rates. Performance and commitment are key to becoming a supplier with Airbus.”
Another prospect, Supplier B, mentioned he’d been in business 60 years, had looked at the industry, and understood he needed to adopt new technology. The company reduced its product offering and focused on its core strength and became experts in that field.
Marcheschi says, “They reached 100% on-time delivery because of all these changes and are ready for the future. Guess which supplier I contacted?”
Marcheschi asks would-be suppliers, “What have you done to meet the challenges of the future? How have you prepared?”
Things are great; every year we’re increasing our production. We need you. Without suppliers, we couldn’t build airplanes. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to ship one airplane, because we don’t have the capability to do it in-house.” – Joe Marcheschi, Head of Strategic Procurement Support, Airbus Americas
“The competition is fierce. We can’t rest on achievements and technology of the past. Innovation and new technology will be the key differentiators for North America. Showcase your innovations. The status quo is not a place to be,” Marcheschi warns. “True leaders differentiate themselves. True leaders in this industry are the ones we want to do business with. It’s only by working together that we can meet the challenges, so we will all reap the benefits this great industry has generated for us.”