Boeing plans to employ an IoT network to upgrade its aircraft manufacturing facilities

Boeing has been automating its manufacturing plants. They have filed several patents which disclose how these factories will operate. Check out the video below.

Currently, manufacturing plants for large scale apparatuses, such as aircraft, are composed of multiple production lines and each line involves mating of hundreds of thousands of parts. For example, a technician who is tasked with mating parts in a particular zone also has to complete a number of time-intensive steps both before and after actually mating the parts to complete the task.

For example, the technician first downloads (from a workstation) instructions for mating the parts at hand. The technician has to mentally synthesize the instructions and then walk over to the point on the production line for actually mating the parts, which increases the likelihood of human error and wastes time in the technician walking back and forth between the point of assembly and the location of the corresponding instructions and drawings.

Boeing plans to solve this problem by employing an Internet of things (IoT) network for more efficiently and accurately managing a production line including the design, build, and testing phases.

A technician on the factory line will be equipped with a wearable device, such as Google Glass. The wearable device will enable the technician, for example, to download from a backend system and view on the display screen of the wearable device , the drawings and instructions pertaining to the technician’s mating task. Further, the wearable device will be operated by voice commands and head movements.

Additionally, the technician on the factory line will be equipped with integrated circuit sensors disposed on the clothing of the technician for detecting his or her location and position. Similarly, integrated circuit sensors will be disposed throughout the factory, such as in particular zones and in specific locations on the factory floor and on the aircraft itself. Sensors will be further disposed on the plethora of parts that must be mated at particular points on the factory line.

To recap, the technician user wears a HMD that provides a hands-free display of assembly instructions while the technician is assembling the product. The technician also wears sensors for transmitting data about the technician’s location within the production environment. Point of assembly sensors are disposed at locations within the production environment for transmitting data regarding where the product is and should be assembled. The product’s parts also include sensors that transmit data regarding location of the parts and how they are assembled. A backend computer system stores product assembly information including the assembly instructions, where the technician should be to assemble the product, how the product should be assembled, and verification of assembly accuracy. Alerts are generated if information from the sensors does not corresponding with the preprogrammed information in the computer system.

The system maximizes both the efficiency and accuracy of production facilities.

Patent Information
Publication number: US 20160202692
Publication date: Jul 14, 2016
Filing date: Jan 8, 2015
Inventors: Depti Patel; Robert J. Rencher; Luis A. Vinuelas; FRoland N. reeman; David W. Nelson;
Original Assignee: The Boeing Company