Mir, R. and DeVlieg, R., "777X Control Surface Assembly Using Advanced Robotic Automation," SAE Technical Paper 2017-01-2092, 2017.
Fabrication and assembly of the majority of control surfaces for Boeing’s 777X airplane is completed at the Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS) site in St. Louis, Missouri. The former 777 airplane has been revamped to compete with affordability goals and contentious markets requiring cost-effective production technologies with high maturity and reliability. With tens of thousands of fasteners per shipset, the tasks of drilling, countersinking, hole inspection, and temporary fastener installation are automated. Additionally and wherever possible, blueprint fasteners are automatically installed. Initial production is supported by four (4) Electroimpact robotic systems embedded into a pulse-line production system requiring strategic processing and safeguarding solutions to manage several key layout, build and product flow constraints. Commonality amongst the robots was desired to allow each to effectively address any of the commodities which range from small fairings to very large empennage and leading edge assemblies that required the automation to work its way around from the upper to lower surface. Multi-function end effectors enable processes to be completed in one pass from initial hole preparation to installed fastener. Advanced safety systems are utilized which include programmable laser scanners on the robots and tooling that are automatically configured based on the present tooling. Operator access and part flow through the cell are paramount, driving the design of a flush floor rail system and the ability to operate robots in dual zones, further driving the requirement for flexible cell processing and safeguarding techniques.