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CRX Cobot Helps Cut Aerospace Safety Task From 12 Hours to 10 Minutes

Posted on
Jul 08, 2024
Bryan Dugan
Bryan Dugan
Web Manager , FANUC America
Inspec ams

Safety is of utmost importance in aerospace manufacturing requiring the inspection of intricate and complex aircraft components. Traditionally, this process has been manually executed, but FANUC ASI 4D Technology in conjunction with OptiPro developed an automated system that transforms the slow and subjective manual inspection process into a rapid, repeatable, non-contact measurement of features and defects on precision machine parts. The automation solution, which won FANUC’s 2023 Innovative System of the Year Award, pairs a CRX 10iA/L collaborative robot with an optical gage providing a reliable and flexible automated inspection process that improves part quality, reduces waste and boosts throughput.


Manual Inspection and Measurement Challenges

For many decades, inspection processes in the aerospace and automotive industries have relied on the human eye and/or the aid of an optical comparator. This manual process can be time-consuming, taking hours to inspect and measure parts. Moreover, parts with inaccessible areas require the creation of a replica to be accurately measured. Stylus-based measurement systems also have drawbacks, such as their inability to be used on large parts, variable and unreliable measurements, and the potential to damage or scratch parts inspected.

Inspection Gages Offer Improved Measurement

Portable, 3D optical gages provide non-contact, 3D measurement of features and defects from 2.0µm to 9mm in height. In the last decade, the 4D InSpec and 4D InSpec XL gages have been widely used to align, focus and measure parts in less than one second, hundreds of times faster than manual inspection. Because the gages acquire 3D data, the system corrects for any measurement tilt or alignment error, providing far more repeatable results than other methods.

The gages readily measure features such as edge break, radii and chamfers as well as defects such as bumps, dings, nicks and pits, even in hidden and difficult-to-reach locations. By accurately assessing features and defects, the 4D InSpec provides much more precise part disposition than visual inspection.

4d technology inspection system


The Benefits of Cobot Automation in Aviation Inspection

Developed in conjunction with leading aerospace and aviation engine manufacturers, the 4Di InSpec automated metrology system (AMS) combines a 4D InSpec sensor and custom metrology automation software developed by OptiPro with a FANUC collaborative robot to dramatically improve throughput. Applications perfect for this type of inspection include production, repair/rework and field measurement.

Because the measurements taken are so much more accurate and reliable than other methods, the automation cell has resulted in dramatic reductions in scrap and rework and has led up to a 40 percent improvement in yield.

For a complex part with more than 50 measurement callouts, the 4Di InSpec AMS can reduce measurement cycle time to less than 10 minutes from upwards of 12 hours using manual inspection. One user reported that 44 edge break and chamfer measurements were completed in under two minutes with the 4Di InSpec AMS—a process that had required more than 44 hours to complete manually using replication.

For larger components, an automated rotary table can be incorporated for easier handling and access to a greater number of features. Smaller components can be mounted directly to the collaborative robot and moved about a stationary 4D InSpec sensor. Because the 4D InSpec sensor is immune to vibration, quick measurements can be taken with little time between robot movements. This is critical for use in a production line, allowing the robot to move the sensor in concert with the manufacturing line without interrupting continuous production.

Because the 4Di InSpec AMS accurately captures complex feature dimensions rapidly, the system enables more precise parts to be accurately assessed, reducing inspection times and freeing up employees from hours of time-consuming manual inspections. These combined benefits of the automated measurement system using a FANUC CRX cobot has offered a return on investment of approximately two months.

Considering recent aviation safety events, aerospace manufacturers will be under more scrutiny to prove their parts are in compliance and of the best quality. This in turn will make the 4Di InSpec AMS and similar types of inspection automation vital for the aviation industry’s manufacturing and repair processes.

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