KRANENDONK – ‘Smart robotics’ – from Holland has recently supplied a unique robot system to Fokker Aerostructures. The system welds composite components for exclusive business jets. ‘We pushed robot technology to its limits’, says Bart van Dam, Chief Technology Officer at KRANENDONK.
Composite induction welding is a technology applied by Fokker Aerostructures in order to produce lightweight components. Composite components are used in wings and tail sections of business jets. Of great importance is the component quality. For this reason, high quality standards apply to the production process and robots. The production process needs to be certificated before actual production can be started. Accuracy of the weld seams is the most important factor. To achieve this accuracy, the robot has to move very precisely.
KRANENDONK designed a machine with 9 axes to automate the welding process. ‘It’s a special cooperation, in which we pushed robot technology to its limits’, explains Evert Geurtsen. ‘We calibrated the system across all 9 axes and the full work area. This means that each robot movement is performed within a tolerance of 0.3 mm’. The system features a large work area. A column travels across a 24 meters long track and carries an elevator with a suspended robot. Movements of all axes are coordinated by KRANENDONK’s production software. Thanks to the large work area, multiple welding fixtures can be placed side by side, enabling continuous production.
The system faces high quality demands in aerospace technology. ‘After a thorough selection, we chose KRANENDONK as supplier. The knowledge and expertise of the company fits perfectly with our technical and functional specifications’, says Marcel de Groot, project manager at Fokker Aerostructures. ‘During testing we attached a measuring tool to the robot in order to prove the accuracy’, continues Geurtsen. ‘Because of the small sized robot, all external axes (e.g. the track) had to be very accurate. Luckily, we have a lot of experience in motion control at KRANENDONK’.
After the accuracy was approved, the system was installed at Fokker Aerostructures. Production will be initiated later this year. Certification of the production process will be done according to the strict requirements in the aerospace industry. Geurtsen finishes: ‘The system will be welding airplane components for at least 10 years. It is designed in a way that new models can be programmed easily, without terminating production for several weeks’.
KRANENDONK is the robot technology centre for non-repetitive production. By implementing intelligent robot technology, KRANENDONK enables manufacturing companies to produce more efficiently and effectively. The production systems that KRANENDONK supplies are custom-build solutions that are cleverly integrated into material and data flows. This opens a range of automation opportunities for manufacturing companies.