The aerospace industry is a demanding sector, requiring extremely rigorous and standardized industrial processes.
For example, a machined engine part must be cleaned of particles before assembly, so it is subjected to meticulous cleaning at very high pressure. During this cleaning process, operators are exposed to high-pressure water jets up to 60 bars, to polluting particles that come off the parts, and to noise. In addition, repetitive movements on heavy parts generate significant risks of RSI. Aerospace manufacturers and subcontractors are struggling to recruit candidates for these jobs, which are also subject to strict regulations. Aircraft manufacturer Safran was looking for an automation solution to make this process less arduous and safer for its operators.
However, robotizing this type of task is complex, not least because of the diversity and number of parts to be processed, but also because of the lack of availability of roboticists.
In response to these specific and complex problems, Visionic, an integrator specializing in vision and optical guidance systems for complex industrial processes and a Fuzzy Logic partner, has designed a robotic cell for Safran comprising a chassis, a robot, high-pressure hydraulic circuits and a closed-circuit particle filtration and recovery system. It is controlled using our Fuzzy Studio software, which enables these complex tasks to be robotized without robotics programming expertise and at lower cost.
Testimonials from Brahim Sahed, Special Materials and Processes Engineer and Reda Bouarfa, Trainee Engineer at Safran Helicopter Engines
What problems were you faced with?
We were faced with a manual pressure-cleaning process that was time-consuming and repetitive, and ergonomically unsuitable for our operators. We wanted to automate it, and to do so we had to automate the process, in order to provide both a better ergonomic response and greater repeatability.
We were looking for a process that was easy to program, because our flows are highly variable and we don’t have a roboticist on site.
Visionic suggested we try out the Fuzzy Studio software. It enables us to create complex part trajectories without programming, and can be used with any robot.
We were able to test it on Fuzzy Logic’s site and we were immediately convinced by its simplicity, particularly when it came to trajectories.
What are the main constraints in your application?
The parts – components that go into fuel or oil pumps – are complex to clean, and their weight creates risks of RSI.
Our cleaning process is demanding, and its quality has to meet both ISO and strict internal standards. It requires cognitive ergonomics and precise repetition of the cleaning trajectory. But manual work is less rigorous and less precise than an automated trajectory.
Specifically, how does our software meet your needs?
Automating the task will make it less tedious and safer.
The process includes an initial phase of cleaning the part, followed by rinsing to extract the particles from the cleaning and check the cleanliness of the part.
With your software, the same trajectories are used at different stages of the process. We simply modify certain parameters, such as pause times. You don’t have to spend the same amount of time on every phase and every zone. Rinsing takes less time than cleaning, we apply the same trajectory but more quickly. These parameters can be easily modified in the software.
Finally, it’s our non-robotic operators who use the software. This is a key advantage of Fuzzy Studio.
What changes has it brought about within your teams?
We’re planning to upgrade the skills of some operators, to qualify them in the creation of trajectories. This will add value to the job, which is currently seen as a simple cleaning task, which is why it’s difficult to recruit people for this position. Not everyone thinks that an operator can do programming.
What medium- and long-term benefits do you expect from this solution?
Automation will make this task more reliable thanks to the repeatability of the cleaning trajectories, making it impossible to clean an area. Then, potentially, we’ll be able to adjust the time spent on each stage, depending on the quality of cleaning required. We’ll be able to adapt the program, thereby saving time and reducing production costs.
What prospects does the automation of repetitive and arduous tasks open up for you at Safran?
Another entity is interested in the cell and the software. Tasks such as deburring could be possible future applications, depending on the precision required. From an ergonomic and operational point of view, we have every interest in automating these arduous tasks with a simple programmable solution.
The cell is attracting interest, particularly from the Group’s robotics specialists, who are taking a curious look at the solution.
What was the relationship with Fuzzy Logic like?
We were welcomed at your premises before placing our order. That made all the difference. We were able to use the software ourselves. We were able to see for ourselves how easy it was to create trajectories.
Fuzzy Logic was very responsive to changes and updates. Solutions were quickly found to our problems. The teams even came to Visionic to monitor the installation of the software on the machine. We appreciated Fuzzy Logic’s attention and responsiveness.