[PART 2] DELMIA Helps the Aerospace Industry Meet the Challenges of Composite Manufacturing

Composite wing flap at Airbus
A composite wing flap in Filton, Bristol.
Source: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, UK.

I’m Christian Chaplais, Senior Manager of R&D DELMIA Enterprise Intelligence Applications. Welcome to the  second blog  of a two-part series on how  Operational Intelligence is helping the Aerospace & Defense Industry.

Finding a Way Around the Complexity of Composite Manufacturing

Many composite parts manufacturers have been exposed to quality issues for years. Some have used classic approaches such as simple statistics, advanced statistics or optimization consulting services to find an answer, but came up short.

So, the question remains. How do you solve composite manufacturing issues without going through all the complexities? There is a way to discover and apply an empirical (data-based) model without the complications in just a few weeks: Operations Intelligence (O/I).

With (O/I) Process Rules Discovery, for example, quality engineers or process and product experts can discover patterns (or rules) explaining whether results have been satisfactory or not. This can be done with a limited number of observations, which keeps down costs, in a ramp-up study.

Process and product experts can also understand the model with Process Rules Discovery, change it by editing the rules and immediately see the impact on the rule KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) based on facts (data).

Here’s a sample rule discovered by Process Rules Discovery:

sample rule

The rule can be interpreted as:

When the product is in the autoclave for an extended period of time (cure cycle time is high)…
…and the binding strength of the fiber is low,
…and fibers have been aging sufficiently,
then the quality is good.

Let’s take another O/I example. With Operations Advisor, shop floor workers can assess risk and take preventive or corrective action in real-time. Operations Advisor recommends values for actionable parameters (settings) without requiring any change to the process specifications or investment in new material.

operations advisor

[Operations Advisor risk assessment and proposed settings ranges (in green)]

Adopting Operations Intelligence

The DELMIA Operations Intelligence solution for Composites has been widely adopted by the Aerospace & Defense Industry from both OEMs and tier-one suppliers.

For several years, one company has been faced with an important and repetitive nonconformance issue (delamination) on the composite leading edge of wings for an aircraft manufacturer. On this family of products, the reject rate could reach 13% and the rework rate 28%. There were delays (up to 6 months of manufacturing backlog), extra internal costs, a loss of confidence from the customer and internal frustration. Multiple quality tasks including process audits, investigating new processes, SPC analysis, inspections of raw material, etc. did not solve the problem.

They then decided to use Operations Intelligence to analyze two years of production. In less than six weeks, two influent parameters, unsuspected until now, were identified (the fluidity of the resin and the time during which the part is kept under vacuum), as well as the recommended lower and higher limits for these parameters. By applying the rules discovered, they managed to instantly reduce the scrap rate to zero and the rework rate to 1%, removing any backlog shortly after.

I’d like to hear your experiences with Composite Manufacturing? What was the outcome?

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