July 04, 2005
DELMIA Simulates New Mile-Long F-35 Moving Assembly Line For Lockheed Martin
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Delmia Corp., a Dassault Systemes company, announced that its V5 DPM Assembly and V5 Human digital manufacturing software is being used by Lockheed Martin to simulate the feasibility of a moving assembly line at the mile-long Fort Worth, Texas facility slated for production of its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The aircraft assembly process, tooling and line workers involved in the production process have all been simulated and tested prior to production.

DELMIA V5 DPM Assembly optimizes both process engineering and the assembly sequences during the planning stage, long before equipment is installed inside the plant. The addition of V5 Human helps to analyze reachability and ergonomic issues revolving around all the human motions necessary for the assembly process.

Traditionally, aircraft are built with large monument tools that are bolted to the floor in what is called a bay build line. The tools are much different with a moving assembly line. Through simulation studies of a moving line, Lockheed Martin discovered that the tools would have to travel with the airplane, as would the utilities, such as electric and pneumatic power. Simulation helped identify potential pitfalls early in the process and before the start of actual production, thus saving time and reducing cost.

Lockheed Martin is also using DELMIA tools to study the workforce logistics and the interaction of processes and resources. This will help ensure that the proper item is delivered to the right station at the right time and that workers will have everything they need at hand (parts, tools, manpower, utilities) in order to perform their assembly tasks.

Simulation is also helping Lockheed Martin determine the number of people needed for assembly processes in order to meet target times. For example, the landing gear is very large and requires a tool to support its weight and help line up the pins. By running 'what if' scenarios with different numbers of line workers, Lockheed Martin can determine how many people are needed to complete this task in optimal time.

Currently, there are four designated stations in the line. But, when the plant reaches its full production rate of one plane a day, there could be as many as 14 assembly stations along the line, each staffed with about a dozen workers performing thousands of operations. Lockheed Martin believes that the moving line approach could increase production efficiency and optimize floor space, yielding savings of up to of $300 million over the life of the program.

Talk about simulation on a grand scale … this is it … a mile-long assembly line. DELMIA has been involved with a number of large-scale fabrication and assembly projects over the years, including automotive, aerospace, and shipbuilding - big things. DELMIA can also handle and simulate the people side of manufacturing for maintenance and shop floor operations.

Traditionally, the aerospace product lifecycle has been a sequential linear process. First, a new aircraft concept and design was developed. Once approved, the production processes and related resources were developed, planned, and validated. Only then were maintenance and operation support plans and procedures defined and developed. This linear approach not only extends the product development cycle, but also tends to make design changes, especially late in the game, cost-prohibitive.

DELMIA markets an aerospace suite of products that changes the fundamentals of traditional aerospace workflows by letting manufacturing engineers and process planners define, validate, manage, and deliver to the shop floor the instructions needed to manufacture massive aerospace products. DELMIA is able to provide concurrent engineering and manufacturing capabilities, with the concept, product engineering, and process engineering phases all occurring simultaneously. An extremely complex task, to say the least.

Engineers can create a collaborative environment for sharing and storing current engineering and manufacturing data. With additional applications and what is literally DELMIA's core, the Manufacturing Hub, electronic work instructions can be delivered directly to the shop floor. As a result, the cost of maintaining the work instructions is minimized. Since the instructions are validated in manufacturing engineering and can be 3D-based, the result is higher quality work instructions for the mechanics. This, in turn, provides increased first-time production quality.

DELMIA has been working with Lockheed Martin at the Fort Worth facility since 2002, and this is announcement is a further culmination of that effort. As kind of a first step to this announcement, earlier this year DELMIA was involved with off-line programming of robotic paint systems at the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) facility. The simulation tools are used in paint applications and stealth coatings for a number of F-35 JSF components, most containing critical surfaces for performance. Lockheed Martin deployed the system to ensure optimum spray quality and accuracy.

One of the strengths of DELMIA is that users can program an entire simulation, regardless of scale - robots, fixtures, material handling equipment, etc. - through a relatively simple graphical programming interface. By evaluating robot and human parameters digitally, programmers can arrive at optimal results, usually without physical prototypes. DELMIA has evolved to be known as one of the most capable packages for simulating the complex interactions of digital, mechanical, and human manufacturing activities and processes.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

INCAT International plc, a provider of software solutions and associated services to automotive, aerospace and industrial manufacturers announced the acquisition of CAD Potential, Inc. (Cadpo), a Denver, Colorado-based provider of engineering knowledge technology products and services, including the only learning management system (LMS) in the CAD industry - "i.get.it" - that supports multiple PLM software applications, such as CATIA, UGS NX, and SolidWorks.

CertiPath, LLC, a joint venture between ARINC, Exostar LLC, and SITA SC, providing the first commercially managed Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)-based bridging mechanism to the international aerospace and defense (A&D) community, announced Boeing, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman have signed agreements as charter customers to enable secure trusted identity assurance between the organizations and their partners and customers. PKIs combine software, encryption technologies, and services to help protect the security of communications and business transactions on the Web. The neutral CertiPath PKI bridge will create a foundation to link together the identity
infrastructures of the aerospace companies and other aerospace and defense industry suppliers so that an individual or organization credentialed with one partner will be automatically vetted with other partners without the need to create trusted relationships between each and every individual and organization.

Adobe Systems Inc. announced that Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer with one of the most modern and comprehensive product lines on the market, has adopted Adobe Acrobat 7.0 software on a worldwide basis. Airbus plans to deploy 32,000 seats of Acrobat 7.0 Professional and Acrobat 7.0 Standard throughout the company over the course of the current calendar year for Adobe PDF document generation, collaboration, added security, and archival purposes. Acrobat 7.0 and Adobe PDF will enable Airbus teams to share and collaborate on documents created from virtually any application, including 2D and 3D CAD software.

Dassault Systemes and i2 Technologies, a provider of demand-driven supply chain solutions, announced that they have reached an important milestone in their strategic partnership for the development of sourcing solutions for PLM based on the Dassault Systemes V5 platform. The intent of the partnership, announced on May 10, is to enable cross-functional visibility and unmatched collaboration between the engineering and sourcing communities, bringing sourcing considerations to the engineer's desktop, and engineering criteria and 3D digital mockup to the sourcing specialist. As an important step in the partnership, Dassault Systemes has completed the planned acquisition of a center for the
development of sourcing solutions for collaborative PLM from i2. The ongoing partnership will continue to bring together Dassault Systemes' PLM expertise and V5 platform, along with sourcing expertise and SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) upgrades from i2, which will also continue to develop and sell its SRM solutions and support its customers.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.

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