CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MI-KUKA Robotics Corp. is joining forces with five other automation companies to develop new manufacturing processes for the aerospace industry.

Joining KUKA are Composite Systems (Arnold, CA), Programming Plus (New Berlin, WI), New River Kinematics (Williamsburg, VA), Faro Technologies (Lake Mary, FL), EOA Systems (Carrollton, TX) and Weber Screwdriving Systems Inc. (Yorktown Heights, NY). The consortium's initial focus will be on airframes and aerospace structures for commercial aircraft.

"We believe robotic and sensor technology is at a crossover point and can now supplement traditional hard-tooled manufacturing in a wide range of high-tolerance aerospace applications," says KUKA new markets director Mike Beaupre. "Our customers are demanding lower capital costs, reduced time-to-market and more flexibility in operations. This consortium has a clear vision on how to implement flexible automation to deliver these benefits."

The consortium is currently working with aerospace manufacturers to identify potential applications. Early emphasis is being given to drilling and riveting operations, as these have historically been both labor and tooling intensive.