ARGON Develop Turnkey Inspection Cell for Airbus Jet Engine Pylons

ARGON has been selected by Airbus to realize a turnkey automated inspection cell for A330 & A380 jet engine pylons in the Saint-Eloi Satellite site in France. This new inspection cell complements an existing Saint-Eloi cell, which already runs on ARGON-developed automated inspection cycles. Furthermore, ARGON is also integrating metrology solutions enabling measurement assisted pylon assembly.

Turnkey inspection cell for jet engine pylons

The turnkey automated inspection cell for jet engine pylons is a project for which full responsibility has been awarded to ARGON in terms of development, installation, service, maintenance and warranty. At the core of the new inspection cell is a dual horizontal arm CMM from Hexagon. The tactile inspection system will automatically measure both sides of a pylon embodiment simultaneously, speeding up the process altogether. The turnkey inspection cell will be used for measuring A330 and A380 jet engine pylons, and serves as backup means for A350 pylon types.

The CMM in the climate-controlled cell is mounted on a passively damped concrete foundation with integrated pylon lifting and stabilizing system. ARGON will integrate the CMM by adding an intuitive graphic user interface on top of providing th measurement programs within the Metrologic software platform.

Ensuring maximum operational reliability is key, because the inspection cell is the only inspection location within the production facility. The dual arm CMM is a smart choice because if one arm fails, the other is used to measure the entire pylon.And in the rare case of two defective arms at the same time, ARGON has put in place a manual back up measurement approach. This strategy with two backup modes ensures that nominal inspection can be resumed in less than 24 hours.

Inspection as easy as operating a coffee machine

Geert Creemers, ARGON CEO, commented: “We are proud to integrate pylon measurements into the production process at Airbus, and make inspection as easy as operating a coffee machine. This can be achieved through integrated and automated measurement, which supports Airbus in further stepping up production rates. Our specialist know-how and solution-oriented focus are appreciated by Airbus, since ARGON is also integrating in-line measurements at multiple stations along several pylon assembly lines.”

In the new inspection cell, any operator will be able to start the fully automated inspection cycle without metrology know-how. The inspection process includes automated tactile pylon alignment without tooling, reducing operator overhead. During inspection, the operator can easily follow up on graphic screen displays revealing cell status info and inspection progress and outcome. For each measured pylon, an inspection report is generated, printed, and digitally made available to Airbus.

Airbus has awarded ARGON full responsibility with respect to the turnkey automated inspection cell. A team of ARGON engineers is responsible for project and supplier management, including inspection cell infrastructure with full integration of hardware, software and data management. In addition, they will provide cell supervision for a number of years to ensure maximum inspection quality and efficiency – covering warranty, backup management, service and maintenance.

ARGON awarded full inspection cell responsibility

Jef Cambré, ARGON Project Leader: “As Airbus was impressed with ARGON’s work in another ongoing pylon inspection project, the aviation giant has awarded ARGON increased responsibility. This time ARGON helped decide on the entire inspection cell that is being built in a new production site near Toulouse Airport, including inspection equipment, software and integration. Also on the operational side, ARGON specialists will be around when needed to ensure smooth automated pylon inspection at any time. Expressed in metrics, it means that ARGON guarantees Net Equipment Effectiveness higher than 90%.”

Supporting pylon inspection since 2014

Since early 2014, ARGON develops measurement programs using Spatial Analyser to automate pylon inspection in the Airbus St.-Eloi factory. A Hexagon laser tracker automatically traces the initial pylon positioning. Then the tracker assists a KUKA robot in automatically measuring 100-200 tactile inspection points, depending on the pylon type. The inspection cell is equipped to measure Airbus A320 and A350 jet engine pylons.

In addition, ARGON is integrating in-line measurements at several stations along certain pylon assembly lines. The semi-automatic measurements assist production staff with specific assembly tasks and provides instant progress and quality control feedback.

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