Broetje-Automation is the world's leading expert in specialized production processes in the aviation and aerospace industry. Our team of about 700 employees, located worldwide, plan and implement highly-efficient solutions for the production and assembly of aircraft. The entire spectrum of the aviation industries’ relevant automated assembly processes is our profession. We use large-scale machines to process complex complete fuselages as well as automation solutions based on robots used in production cells for single components. From all of this knowledge we provide sustainable, efficient turnkey production solutions for all types of aircraft.
introduction of the Digitised Production Chain - Premium AEROTEC selects SOUL OLPS as standard software for offline NC programming and simulation
With the introduction of SOUL OLPS as the standard environment for NC programming and simulation, Premium AEROTEC is paving the way for the introduction of the digitalised production chain. The standardisation not only achieves synergy effects with regard to maintenance and training costs, but also significantly improves the quality of NC programming.
Premium AEROTEC has chosen the SOUL OLPS solution from Broetje-Automation GmbH in Rastede as the standard software for the offline programming and simulation of its riveting systems. Germany's largest supplier of aerostructures has for some time been pushing ahead with the digitalisation of the entire production chain. The aim is to significantly improve the quality, effectiveness and productivity of production with the help of the latest technologies such as the "digital twin".
Using digitization to improve quality and increase efficiency
"The introduction of the SOUL Suite is an important step towards the digitalization of our production. The system is fully 3D-capable and supports our "first-time-right" claim. Thanks to the simulation using the Digital Twin, the entire process becomes completely transparent. Collisions between machine and component are eliminated, and rework during NC programming is a thing of the past," explains Umberto Girard, Head of Manufacturing Engineering & NC Programming at Premium AEROTEC in Augsburg. "By introducing the software, we were not only able to reduce the effort for NC programming, but also to minimize the error rate in production to such an extent that savings of several hundred thousand euros were achieved".
The software solution is now to be gradually implemented as the standard environment for all riveting systems at Premium AEROTEC. Broetje-Automation began developing the SOUL Suite for its own drilling and riveting systems more than ten years ago.
"I would like to thank the entire Premium AEROTEC team that has contributed to this project. The commitment invested by both partners is now paying off," says Dirk Eickhorst, Head of Technology at Broetje-Automation.
Standardised software also for existing equipment
The standardisation of the software enables Premium AEROTEC to exploit severaI synergy effects. Flexibility is significantly increased, and the necessary training for NC programmers applies across all plants. In the past, each plant manufacturer pursued its own programming systems. This is now being solved uniformly with SOUL OLPS.
Employees can now implement changes to existing NC programs for production much faster and thus make an important contribution to maintaining throughput times. In addition, the quality level of production has also been significantly improved. After the move, the new system already worked faultlessly in its first use, thus drastically reducing the non-quality costs.
"The project is an example of how digitization supports people," emphasizes Umberto Girard. "The virtual world helps us to understand the real world better and to make it more transparent. lt enables us to find solutions faster and thus improve our competitiveness in Germany as a business location".
World first: Broetje-Automation brings robot-controlled sealing of aircraft components to industrial maturity
After several years of research and development Broetje-Automation presents an industrially mature, automated solution for sealing aircraft components. The modular system is capable of carrying out the most diverse sealing applications safely and cleanly, even on complex components. Depending on the application, standard robots or collaborating robot systems (CoBots) are used.
The sealing of aircraft structures is one of the core processes in aircraft construction, as it ensures the necessary durability and thus the safety of the aircraft for many years. The application of the sealant therefore requires a particularly high degree of accuracy to guarantee absolute quality of the seal. Up to now, this process has been carried out largely manually, which is time-consuming, requires a high degree of quality assurance and slows down production. Sealing is the second most common manual activity in aircraft construction after drilling and riveting.
With the latest development, Broetje-Automation has automated the application of sealants with the highest precision and effectiveness. Robots are used to achieve a consistently high quality of seams and applications. An automated, continuous process monitoring completes the system. The newly developed concept allows savings of up to 20% while improving the quality of the components at the same time.
Due to the high complexity of aircraft components, an industrially mature automation of sealing is a great challenge. Hard to access, curved surfaces and joints must be sealed cleanly and process-safe. At the same time, the sealants used in aviation are often difficult to process, have to be mixed shortly before application and are sometimes very viscous. Nevertheless, the components may only be processed at the precise location provided for this purpose; contamination is not permitted.
In order to be able to meet all these requirements, the sealing concept of Broetje-Automation has a modular structure. Depending on the application, the system can be operated autonomously within a robotic cell or with small, collaborative robots ("CoBots").
The system also provides a "digital twin", which is integrated into the automated NC programming environment "SOUL OLPS" and can fully simulate the processes. The system is thus optimally prepared for use in the digital factory of the future.
In order to meet the requirements of customers worldwide, the technology team at Broetje-Automation has developed various end-effectors for the application of the material. The system can use polysulfite and epoxy sealants, both using pre-mixed cartridges and with a "mixing-on-the-fly" module that can mix several components live during sealing.
"The many different component types, material mixtures and not least the complexity of the components themselves were a major challenge for us in the industrialization of the system," explains project manager Dr. Thomas Schwane. "We are proud that after several years of development we have now found a comprehensive solution for the various applications".
The following types of sealing are already available, for which special nozzles have been individually developed:
- Fillet sealing (e.g. for clips, stringers, frames)
- Cap Sealing (for sealing of rivet heads)
- Epoxy Edge Sealing (for composite components)
- Complex shapes (curves, connections)
The foundations of the technology, which has now been developed to industrial maturity, were laid by research funding within the framework of the Aviation Research Programme (LuFo) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWI). Broetje-Automation is grateful for this support, without which the current success would not have been possible.
The sealing system will now be introduced step by step to customers worldwide. The first order is already being implemented.