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Fast Jet Fuselage Demonstrates Latest Manufacturing Technologies

A representative military fast jet fuselage has been designed and built at a, first-of-its kind industry 4.0 Factory at BAE Systems in Lancashire, UK. The system demonstrates how the technologies developed in the Factory create a step change in design and manufacturing capability to deliver Tempest, the UKs next generation combat aircraft, in half the time of previous programmes.

The multi-million pound factory has been used to rapidly trial and test new technologies in a flexible, adaptable and digitally enabled environment. Systems move and adapt to meet the requirement, with room to evolve the design or change the product in the process.

Over 65% of the fusealage structure has been bult using guided automation. A digitally led approach incorporates a number of technologies that have been demonstrated including: Model Based Systems Engineering, Intelligent Work Instructions, Advanced Industrial Network through Internet of Things (IoT), and Remote and collaborative working enabled by a digital thread. Commercial technologies including robots have been adapted and integrated for combat air manufacturing.

Reconfigurable and Product Agnostic Assembly

Robotic technology on a flexible floor creates a highly adaptable and affordable manufacturing solution. Design changes can be made in real
time reducing non-recurring costs, reduced need for long-lead tooling significantly reducing timescales with ability to produce different products through common manufacturing area.

A Collaborative Approach 

More than 50 suppliers have collaborated on the project, bringing unparalleled pace and new technologies in the process. From SMEs specialising in data management to university research centres, engineers have adopted a best athlete approach – bringing the right technologies and skills together from the defence sector and beyond in order to find new ways of meeting the challenges of producing military aircraft.

Increased levels of accuracy in build, less waste and better exploitation of a digital environment also help support the Company’s commitment to deliver Net Zero across its operations by 2030.

Space and beyond…

The techniques founded in the Factory have the potential to be used in other sectors, particularly those with complex and high precision needs such as the space sector.

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