Time Critical Work Flow
Video of Airbus A320 production line in Toulouse
Aviation Assembly Line Requirements
Airbus recently announced to ramp-up production for the A320 to a rate 46 by Q2 2016. Airbus final assembly lines are organised by stations, with each performing a specific task in the aircraft´s production and systems testing. This level of production requires an efficient method of manufacture and assembly, and the aviation industry places special requirements on the supply chain. To facilitate production at this rate requires detailed planning to ensure components are delivered to specification and with full documentation. The assembly line cannot be brought to a halt for the sake of a component that fails to meet specification or misses delivery to a specific time slot. Contracts are thus devised months in advance to establish a clear delivery timetable.
To supply components to meet a defined customer timetable requires organised planning. NADCAP accreditation ensures that processes meet industry standards but individual customers have their own approval inspection programs. Customer Audits are required for compliance and certification issued prior to any contract for component manufacture.
Each batch of components manufactured and assembly produced by Supercraft has a “First Article Inspection Report”. The First Article Inspection provides objective evidence that all engineering design and specification requirements are properly understood, accounted for, verified, and documented. Documentation is held by Supercraft and also accompany the components on delivery to the customer. Contingency planning is also a requirement. In the event of machine failure, disruption in supply of raw material, or an unforeseen event such as fire, contingency plans are necessary which may include additional stock control or alternate place of manufacture. Contingency plans form part of the customer audit process.
Capacity to manufacture needs to be established at an early stage. As demand for aircraft increase, suppliers must increase their capacity to supply, which eventually leads to additional workshop space, machines purchased, and staff employed. Component specifications must be thoroughly examined and any unique finishes or material requirement established. Raw materials need to be purchased long in advance to requirements. All raw materials have their own line of tracking, so can be traced from the component, back down to the supplier of the raw material billet and from there right back to the source and supplier of ore constituents. Such diligent tracking and documentation is one reason for the relative expense of engineered components for the aviation industry; materials and components such as washers and bolts can't just be bought off the shelf. The testing and documentation must be anticipated and incorporated in to the production time for the component.
One location manufacture is an important feature of the Supercraft offering. Supercraft do not need to send components away for testing or finishing, as accredited facilities are available to carry out most engineering procedures in-house. This leads to reliable and predictable delivery of components to the end customer within a time critical work flow.
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