July 12--Kuka Robotics Corp. has joined forces with five other automation companies to develop new flexible manufacturing processes for the aerospace industry. The consortium was formed to address the industry's need to reduce time-to-production cycles and capital expenditures by developing a new production model that will include new generations of flexible robots, sensors, and intelligent fixturing.
Joining Kuka Robotics in the consortium is Composite Systems of Arnold, CA, which will be responsible for overall program management and systems integration; Programming Plus of New Berlin, WI, experts in CAD/CAM integration; New River Kinematics of Williamsburg, VA, experts in sensor integration; Faro Technologies of Lake Mary, FL, experts in laser registration systems; EOA Systems of Carrollton, TX, experts in automated robotic drilling tools; and Weber Screwdrivers of Yorktown Heights, NY, experts in automated screw feeding and fastening systems. The consortium's initial focus will be on airframes and aerospace structures for commercial aircraft.
The companies are currently working with aerospace manufacturers to identify key programs that would benefit from their new data-driven approach to robotic manufacturing in aerospace. Early emphasis is being given to drilling and riveting operations, as these have historically been both labor and tooling intensive operations.