The current engine demand for regional business jets is set to increase rapidly over the coming years, thus leading to a significant increase in the production of key components.
Advanced manufacturing supplier AML Sheffield has secured UK Research and Development funding to launch the AXIS project. The AXIS project brings together innovative technologies for high-rate production commonly utilised in the automotive industry such as optical scanning of parts, advanced notice of material condition and automated part loading and datuming. All of these innovative technologies are then applied to an aerofoil production cell to achieve greater performance and efficiencies.
The AXIS project will improve productivity rates by streamlining or removing the most time-consuming/labour intensive aspects of manufacture via digitisation and automation of part manufacture. While each of these technologies will require a level of development, the main challenge in achieving the project aims is the integration of all elements into a demonstration production cell. This demonstration cell will be the primary output of the project and its success will be gauged against the target production rate increase and part quality of 75PPM.
AML has overseen the integration of several advanced processes within the business:
- Pre-machining optical scanning of parts to generate advanced notice of material condition to AML allowing for automated adaption of machining tool paths to suit part profiles
- Robotics utilisation for loading and unloading of parts from the machine and also for the CMM
- Automated part tracking and scanning with connection to AML’s live MRP system
The application of all the described technologies is the reduction of manual inputs and the ability to predict the state of supply before arrival at AML, resulting in increased productivity of parts through reduction of overall production times.
The successful implementation of the project and the development of AML’s high-rate production has resulted in AML securing long term contracts for the production of components for regional business jet engines. Dr Gareth Morgan, Managing Director at AML, comments “This is an exciting research opportunity for AML. In the post pandemic environment some of the big aircraft manufacturers are predicting regional airports and smaller passenger aircraft will have more relevance in the airline business model in the future. Our commitment to Research and Development cements our position in this future and remains the DNA of how great solutions are built at AML.”
About AML Sheffield
AML is an advanced manufacturing supplier specialising in the development of manufacturing solutions and production services for a number of prestigious blue-chip clients. Originally a spin-out from the award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield, AML is now recognised as a market leader in delivering flexible manufacturing capability at the leading edge of machining technologies and efficiencies, with particular expertise in aerospace, defence and energy components.