The inspection and treatment of complex or large structures of transport vehicles and infrastructures is time and cost consuming. High precision robotic technologies are expected to reduce costs and speed up processes for enhanced safety or quality of service. Although developed in the context of the aviation industry, the technologies developed in the present project may be applied to other structures like wind turbines, tubes or bridges too.
It is the aim of the Auto-LFZ project to improve the use of robots/machines in surface-processing for aircraft. The project thus contributes to automation and efficiency in the aviation industry by developing an automated surface tooling system. The system will include inspection of a range of surfaces for failures and damage and treatment e.g. by cleaning or paint removal.
The system should be applicable to all the different parts of an airplane, which means working from above, underneath and on vertical surfaces. Besides aircraft, applications are envisaged for electricity pylons, water pipes, wind turbines, bridges, etc.
In the first step, the current status of knowledge and technology was reviewed. Based on existing results from the GROBAL project, several new concepts were developed, compared to each other and selected.
The second step was the development and construction of an automated system. In a further step, a machine for demonstration was build.
The key results of the project can be assigned to the different components of the system:
- Laser: Development and construction of a suitable laser beam, which compensates and allows for the movements of the machine.
- Operating head: Design of an operating head, based on preliminary investigations and specifications.
- Laser beam: A tracking system for the laser beam was established, granting freedom of movement through the process envelope.
- Control system: Independent control for the platform with the laser and for the tracking system were developed. A further control system was established for painting.
- Structure of the system: The machine for demonstration has a modular structure
- Experiments: After a successful testing of the single components of the system, the system was tested and modified as a whole.
- In conclusion, the project´s results were validated.
- Project extension: The project was extended in cooperation with Fa. Dürr, “MoDuPoSys”
Furthermore, the project team gained new experiences in project management.
Although some modifications were necessary during the project, the objectives of the project were accomplished. After completion of the project, commercialization and marketing activities are ongoing.
The results of the Auto-LFZ project are documented in the final report available online (German only) at the Technical Information Library of the Hannover University (TIB):