Macclesfield, UK - A new special purpose machine for manufacturing major parts of the A400M military transport aircraft has been successfully installed by its maker HYTRI for its customer, Airbus. Commissioning has been completed and the machine is now in full-scale operation at the Airbus wing manufacturing plant in Filton, Bristol, United Kingdom.
Supplied as part of a comprehensive turnkey contract through HYTRI the sophisticated 5+2-axis CNC machine automatically drills and fettles leading and trailing edge assemblies for the wings of the new A400M which is due to make its first flight in 2008. The contract to supply the complete system including the machine was awarded by the customer in 2005.
HYTRI is a joint venture between production engineering specialists AMTRI and the privately owned aerospace tooling design and manufacturing enterprise, Hyde Group Ltd. Working closely with the tooling supplier Hyde Group, AMTRI designed, developed, and manufactured the sophisticated special purpose machine.
The machine employs a number of clever design innovations to minimise set-up times, and position features with high precision on very large workpieces.
Notable features include a unique post-out beam arrangement that has been incorporated to enable two-sided operation of the machine. The whole machine is mounted on a bogie that travels along a 60-metre rail track, enabling an entire wing-set of spar assemblies to be machined in a single cost-saving set-up.
Further, in each and every working zone, special transformation algorithms devised by AMTRI are used to reference automatically the coordinate frame of the machine to that of the components. This feature combined with the implementation of comprehensive error compensation ensures high precision is maintained over the full working volume of the machine.
Graham Wood, Head of A400M Manufacturing Engineering for the A400M Outer Wing at Airbus, said: "The integrated jig and machine facility represents a critical production system for the A400M Wing Assembly. The machine is performing well in production with hole drilling performance and quality very good across a number of varied and demanding applications. The fettling process is also performing to the required specification."
Philip Sholl, Managing Director of AMTRI, said: "Many of the features in the HYTRI machine have been made possible as a direct result of the technologies developed in the DARWIN and AWBA research projects, where AMTRI was a key participant in both projects."
SOURCE: Hyde Group Ltd.