The automated A320 fuselage structure assembly line at the Airbus plant in Hamburg was opened with the first parts entering the line on Tuesday. The new facility has 20 robots, a new logistics concept, automated positioning by laser measurement, and a digital data acquisition system.

For the initial section assembly, Airbus uses a modular, lightweight automated system called Flextrack, which employs eight robots drilling and counter-sinking 1,100 to 2,400 holes per longitudinal joint. On the next production step, 12 robots, each operating on seven axes, combine the centre and aft fuselage sections with the tail to form one large component, drilling, counter-sinking, sealing and inserting 3,000 rivets per orbital joint.

Along with the introduction of robots on the production line, Airbus is due to implement new approaches and technologies in materials and parts logistics to aid production efficiency, improve and shorten lead times. The goal is to separate the logistics and production levels and add demand-orientated material replenishment, and the use of autonomous guided vehicles.

The Hamburg structure assembly facility has the responsibility for joining the single fuselage shells into sections and final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages. Following this procedure electrical and mechanical systems are added by hand, before the final assembles are delivered to production lines in France, Germany, China and the US.

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