A Framework for Industry 4.0 Implementation in Aerospace Assembly

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper details a single framework that takes an Industry 4.0 approach to the automation of assembly based tasks in aerospace assembly. Research to date has shown that 80% of total assembly time is consumed by only 20% of the tasks within a jet engine nacelle assembly line. These tasks have the potential to be automated through industrial robots, as the proportion of time required for their completion supports a case for the required capital expenditure. The achievable accuracy of industrial robots has limited their broader application in the aerospace industry, where assembly tasks remain predominantly manual. A novel framework which establishes the virtual and physical connections to enable a Cyber-Physical System is presented, which has the potential to address this challenge. The framework is complemented by a developing implementation of the system. A closed-loop, digital construct is proposed whereby data from physical system execution informs changes to coded hardware inputs. This is then used to affect changes or correct actions to robotic operations, in order to meet assembly quality requirements. To date, the research has established independent, bi-directional data streams between the demonstration robot, metrology, and the PLM system. A method has also been developed which integrates positional information (actual & digital) within a single coordinate system to aid the smooth transition of data between the cyber and physical elements of the proposed framework.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA 2020 Aviation Forum: Proceedings
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781624105982
Publication statusPublished - 08 Jun 2020
EventAIAA AVIATION 2020 FORUM - Virtual, Online
Duration: 15 Jun 202019 Jun 2020


CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland Technology Centre, and Bombardier.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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