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Production time reduced from 7 days to 4 hours for BAE Systems

NC-Checker
NC-PartLocator
Customer: BAE Systems
Industry: Aerospace, Defence
Headquarters: UK
Revenue: £16.82 billion (2018)
Employees: 85,800 (2020)

Challenge

To reduce long setup times, reduce overall manufacturing time and reduce the amount of sub-optimal parts produced. Their target was to produce 770 parts in 3 years.

Result

Production time reduced from 7 days to 4 hours 38 minutes

50% extra machine capacity

No sub-optimal parts produced and rework reduced to zero

1,100 parts produced in 2 years

£20 million saved in 5 years

Customer

BAE Systems PLC is the UK’s largest defence and aerospace manufacturer, employing over 80,000 people at 200 locations globally.

Challenge

BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon project was MSP’s first-ever commission following its formation in 2002. The project faced difficulty due to its process for aligning the foreplane on the machine due to the manual setup procedure.

This was a multi-stage production process. The part would have to be located manually within the fixture and then, once machined, be turned over and relocated again to machine the other side. This process had to be repeated twice, using a different fixture each time.

Due to the manual measurement and multiple stages involved, it took 7 days to produce one part; 20-30 hours of which was machining time, the rest – setup time. Furthermore, turning the part over caused a cusp or ‘ridge’ to form on the leading edge of the part. Subsequently, one in ten parts were sub-optimal, with the other nine requiring an element of rework; 22 hours in some cases.

The BAE Systems team had a target to produce 770 parts within three years and their manufacturing process was not fit to achieve this.

Solution

BAE Systems approached the experts at MSP to assist with development of the process. MSP worked along side the team to advise on probing, machine tool performance and formulate a solution based on software fixturing using MSP’s NC-Checker and NC-PartLocator.

The foreplane measured 2.2m x 1.1m and is machined from a formed titanium blank. It was machined in a production cell built around Henri Line GICAMILL 24 LS/5, measuring 3.2m x 2.0m x 1.5m in size, which was a 5-axis machine of Head/Head configuration, equipped with a Renishaw MP700 probe. The machine had a Fanuc 16i controller through which NC-PartLocator probing and part alignment data was exchanged.

Due to the versatility of NC-PartLocator, the original fixtures could be replaced with a single vacuum fixture, removing the need for turning the part and using multiple fixtures.

Eurofighter planes
BAE Systems produced 1,100 parts in 2 years

Result

Using this new fixturing technique and MSP’s ability to automate part setup, the process was reduced to four hours 38 minutes, made up of four hours machining time and 38 minutes setup time. No sub-optimal parts were produced and no rework was necessary.

In two years, 1,100 perfect parts were made, and due to the time saved, they gained 50% extra machine capacity which could be used to make other parts – without any investment in extra machine tools required. Over £20million was saved by BAE Systems in five years and the project was awarded a BAE Systems Bronze Chairman’s Award.

“BAE Systems wanted to reduce their manufacturing time, failure rate, and part setup times by using machine tool probing. However their probing trials showed the problem was far more complex than first thought. Our software gave the team the freedom to machine the part quickly and accurately. Just as its parts allow the Eurofighter Typhoon to be more agile, MSP's PerfectPart solution has the same effect on a machine tool.” MSP Technical Director, Peter Hammond
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