Manufacturers today are producing a wider range of products than ever. Life cycles are shrinking and demand for customization is increasing. As a result, assembly lines must be as flexible as possible without compromising efficiency. That’s why companies producing everything from pumps to pistols and caskets to chainsaws depend on mixed-model assembly.
Back in the day, engines were the exclusive domain of cast iron and steel. But, during the past decade, more lightweight materials, such as aluminum and hard thermoplastics, have been slowly creeping under the hood. The Holy Grail, an engine made almost entirely out of plastic, is finally close to reality.
When Boeing was founded 100 years ago, engineers were concerned about how to use wiring to brace wings. As aircraft became more complex, engineers turned their attention to solving numerous wire harness assembly challenges. Many of their innovative solutions have been chronicled in the pages of ASSEMBLY magazine.
Airbus is investing in automation to tackle huge backlogs for its commercial jetliners. Bernard Duprieu, head of manufacturing technologies research at the Airbus Centre of Competence, Industrial Strategy and System, tells ASSEMBLY about the company’s FuturAssy automation strategy.
When the first issue of ASSEMBLY rolled off the printing press in October 1958, the jet age was just beginning. Aerospace manufacturers were busy churning out bigger, faster, quicker and lighter products for a wide range of commercial and military applications.
Boeing and its heritage companies, such as Douglas Aircraft Co., McDonnell Aircraft Corp. and North American Aviation Inc., have produced hundreds of different types of airplanes, helicopters, missiles, rockets, satellites, spacecraft and other flying objects over the last 10 decades.