Software allows aircraft manufacturer to optimise manufacturing processes and analyse workforce operations at Fort Worth plant Delmia, a Dassault Systèmes company, has 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 optimises 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 analyse 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 aeroplane, 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 optimise floor space, yielding savings of up to of $300 million over the life of the programme.