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Case Studies Of Industrial Robots

Robots in action can be found everywhere. Robot Manufacturers give examples of robot applications in different industries.

KUKA Roboter, Germany - IFR Partner

Pinpoint placing of extreme loads

December 2012,

Premium AEROTEC is Europe's leading manufacturer of structures and manufacturing systems for the aircraft industry and one of the world's largest suppliers of major aircraft components for Airbus. Its Augsburg site employs around 3,000 people in manufacturing and assembling fuselage elements and highly stressed structural components, using hybrid lightweight constructions, CRP technologies, infiltration methods and sandwich construction techniques. For example, this is where the central fuselage component of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the pressure bulkheads for the Airbus family and the Boeing 787, and the freight door for the new A400M military transporter are built. In order to transport the extremely heavy curing tools needed to produce aircraft hulls, Premium AEROTEC uses an omniMove vehicle from KUKA.

Premium AEROTEC was created in 2009 by the merger of the EADS plant in Augsburg and the Airbus plants in Nordenham and Varel. The company is involved in all major aircraft programs - particularly Airbus programs - and has made a name for itself primarily as a supplier of fuselage components made of metal and carbon-fiber reinforced polymers (CRP). "Among other things, we manufacture parts for the entire Airbus family, from the A320 to the A380. In addition, we produce for Boeing and are involved in the new long-haul aircraft from Airbus, the A350 XWB, which is more than 50 percent CRP", explains Edmund Reitter, head of corporate communications at Premium AEROTEC.

Unrestricted maneuverability thanks to a flexible platform concept

Premium AEROTEC uses the omnidirectional vehicle omniMove from KUKA as a mobile platform for transporting very heavy loads of up to 45 tonnes. The KUKA omniMove permits unrestricted maneuverability of extremely heavy curing tools in every direction and rotation about its own axis. The platform can be navigated freely via its omnidirectional wheels, without re-orienting the wheels, and steered by remote control in any direction, in any space. The logistics area required is up to 50% less than for conventionally-steered wheels. This means that a larger production area can be used. The omniMove wheel is the key to traveling straight ahead, diagonally, rotating or traveling sideways.

Sophisticated wheel geometry for precise travel

In 2008, Premium AEROTEC compared various systems for transporting heavy loads before finally deciding on KUKA omniMove. The benefits over other systems included KUKA omniMove's better mapping. "The advantage of the omniMove system is that its wheel geometry and drive system allow it to travel very precisely in every direction," explains Franz Jenik, project manager in production equipment construction at Premium AEROTEC. "With a bogie, the problem would be that it wouldn't travel entirely exactly to the end point and the driven slewing ring would always have to be readjusted."

Pinpoint accuracy: omniMove with a positioning accuracy of +/- six millimeters

Huge curing tools for producing oversize aircraft hulls that are later hardened in an autoclave have to be moved around Premium AEROTEC. "These are tools weighing more than 30 tonnes," reports Jenik. "However, we also transport positive molds of more than 40 tonnes and a stringer set tool that later picks up the cured stringers and transfers them to the fuselage."

To do this, the KUKA omniMove calls at different workstations and moves to various working positions. The tools have to be positioned with a precision of +/- six millimeters. "No other transport system would allow us to work so precisely," Franz Jenik is convinced. The omniMove system has an impressive positioning accuracy. "Optical tracking, positioning aids and mechanical guide elements even allow a positioning accuracy of +/- two millimeters," explains Robert Witte, omniMove expert at KUKA Roboter GmbH.

Given the extremely large loads, fully automatic use of the omniMove cannot be implemented for safety reasons, so the omniMove is controlled manually by a Premium AEROTEC employee.

In the Premium AEROTEC plant in Nordenham, a second KUKA omniMove is used to move 45 tonne loads. "This variant has a lifting device," explains Robert Witte. "This makes it easy and safe to reach any working position up to a height of 2.3 meters." Furthermore, because the vehicle position can also be changed when the work platform is raised, this device saves users a lot of time.

The KUKA omniMove has made moving extreme loads easier at Premium AEROTEC. Franz Jenik is happy: "Put simply, the omniMove can travel more precisely and it's very flexible."

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