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The future of robots in the aerospace sector

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

The conundrum within the aerospace sector, and how robots and automation will play a part in its future, is that even though the manufacturers are advanced in their production methods and are regarded as innovators, they are constantly restrained by the need for safety and proven methodology. 

Simply put, manufacturers of aircraft and space vehicles cannot mess around with new production methods unless they are proved to be extremely safe and utterly reliable. And that’s before you get to the questions as to whether they will increase efficiencies, or reduce costs. And behind the manufacturers are the regulators, who demand that standards are maintained. 

But, even with these limitations, robotics and automation have made great strides forward and will continue to do so over the coming years. Robots now dominate applications such as drilling, welding, coating and quality control. 

And what will drive further automation is the need for especially civilian airline manufacturers to fulfil lengthy order books. Whatever the long term effect of the Covid-19 pandemic turns out to be, it's likely that air travel will recover and continue to flourish, especially in the developing economies.

A great example of how robots will be increasingly used is in the area of surface preparation. Figures have shown that the automation of this key process, which includes applying paint and sealing, can result in huge savings of materials, up to half per aircraft. 

Collaborative robots (cobots) will be used to a greater extent, relieving human workers of tiresome, repetitive tasks and allowing them to focus improving the production processes. 

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