Did you know the final assembly of an aircraft is primarily done by hand? 

The Final Assembly Line (FAL) is the stage in aerospace manufacturing where the wings, tail, and other major plane parts are attached to the fuselage. Passenger seating, storage compartments, and electronics like industrial box PCs for the infotainment systems are also installed and tested. Skilled workers and artisans perform much of this challenging and complex work manually.

Today, we’ll focus on the final assembly of a new plane, paying close attention to four significant tools and systems needed to complete this stage of the long and complex process.

Electronics for Assemblers and Inspectors

Unlike car manufacturing and similar high-tech industries, aircraft assembly is done by hand due to each plane’s size, complexity, and low production volume. 

Assemblers and inspectors are the primary workforce during FAL. As their name implies, assemblers assemble, fit, and install the various manufactured parts and components on the plane. Inspectors examine the parts and components to ensure they meet engineering specifications as well as review the assemblers’ work making sure they meet quality standards. 

You’ll want to ensure your assemblers and inspectors are well-equipped for their tasks as they move down the assembly line. One vital piece of equipment they’ll need is an industrial tablet. 

Assemblers and inspectors work from assembly diagrams, such as instructions, parts lists, blueprints, etc. Inspectors also use detailed inspection documents for reviews, which they sign off on. Industrial tablets can store those diagrams and documents, making them easy for your crew to carry and access. Features like a rugged build, fanless design, and solid-state drives ensure the tablets work even when bumped, dropped, or shaken hard during the 24-hour work shifts. Ensure each worker has access to all necessary material on their tablet. 

Hold and Position Equipment

The numerous parts of a new aircraft must be kept as immovable as possible so assemblers can perform tasks like riveting, which requires extreme precision that must be performed repeatedly. 

Jigs and fixtures allow for that precision. Jigs position and hold a particular tool in place, like a drill, while performing a specific task. Diameter, leaf, and template jigs are common types of jigs. On the other hand, fixtures hold a workpiece in one particular place or position. A welding fixture would be used to precisely position a fuselage panel in preparation for being welded in place.

Many jigs and fixtures are custom-built and fitted for each new airplane design. Ensure each workstation during assemblage has the right ones for your team to perform their duties safely and precisely. 

Painting Equipment

During final assembly, planes are painted using aerospace paint spray booths. These booths are ideal because humidity, temperature, airflow, and pressure can be controlled to meet the plane’s area, color, and finish requirements. 

Like most aspects of an aircraft’s final assembly, painting is performed manually by skilled aircraft painters. Ensure they’re housed in suitable booths, as each has its own paint equipment and application systems. The booths should be set up correctly for maximum worker safety. Constant airflow in and around the booth, especially, is vital as fumes from the paints, primers, and other chemicals and particulates are dangerous to health. 

Many plane manufacturers are increasingly switching to robotic painting systems. Previous ones could only accomplish one painting task, like washing, before switching to a new arm or similar mechanism, a cumbersome and expensive setup. 

Today’s painting robots, though, can change their end-of-arm-tooling and perform multiple functions like washing, drying, painting, and polishing. Guided by industrial panel computers, the robots are faster, more accurate, and can perform repetitive motion without health effects. They’re also unaffected by harmful paint fumes and other hazardous materials. 

Automation in Aerospace Manufacturing and Assembly

As covered earlier, most manufacturers consider the upfront costs of automation too high compared to the low volume of planes built annually. However, the shortage of skilled workers, health issues from repetitive work, and harmful materials during final assembly have manufacturers reconsidering their stance against automated machinery.  

Your facility may already have brought in such automation. Integrated whole-fuselage robotic riveting machines, sub-assembly robots, and similar devices have increasingly taken over drilling and riveting duties. They are the most common form of automation used in aerospace manufacturing, followed by robot sealant application to aircraft structures. 

Robots are also performing inspections. These machines come with an ultrasonic, non-destructive testing end-effector at the end of their robotic arm. The setup enables them to perform minute examinations for unseen flaws and errors, crucial for quality assurance during manufacturing and final assembly.

Regardless of which forms of automation are being used, you and your team should get to know them as an integral part of the final assemblage. 

Let Cybernet Help Assemble Your New Aircraft 

Aircraft manufacturing is massive and relies heavily on machinery and technology. Major plane parts—wings, engines, and fuselage—are built worldwide and brought together for the Final Assembly Line or FAL. While much of the assembly is done manually by skilled workers, computers play many roles, from tablets holding vital instructions for workers to automating hazardous tasks like painting. 

Contact our staff if your aerospace manufacturing facility wants to bring more digital assets to the final assemblage stage of new planes. Our team will happily explain how our industrial computers, tablets, and other computers play many roles in the industry. 

Join the conversation and connect with us on this and other relevant topics – Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.