Top 10 digital factories: Boeing
Dating back to 1916, B...
After ranking in our Top 10 digital factories, we look at the industry 4.0 solutions Boeing is harnessing within its facilities.
Dating back to 1916, Boeing has been a part of the American aviation and aerospace industry for more than 100 years. “From building biplanes in a red barn to designing rockets bound for the red planet, our story is unlike any other,” states Boeing.
“Boeing and its heritage companies have charted the course of aerospace history, helping to build and define an industry that has changed the world.”
Today, this message remains true with Boeing harnessing multiple industry 4.0 technologies within its operations, adopting innovation to not only build aircrafts of the future, but to improve its supply chain, sites and services, with employees at its core.
“We need to make sure people are an active part of this evolution — it’s really a revolution. It’s our people’s intelligence and drive that make all this possible,” said Jared McKie, 787 manufacturing manager, Boeing.
Within its facilities in Utah, Boeing is harnessing multiple innovative technologies to improve the capabilities of engineers and production lines.
Fabrication specialists and manufacturing engineers at Boeing work with composite materials, using a high-tech overhead “blanket” to remove air that can get trapped between the material’s layers. Using a ‘smart susceptor’ blanket engineers can also examine the layers before they are heated and compressed.
Within its final assembly factories in Utah, Boeing is harnessing moving production lines to produce its 737 MAX flight desks, In addition to using 3D-printing technology to minimise the number of parts for the 777X flight-deck.
In addition to Utah, Boeing is also using 3D printing (additive manufacturing) for metal and polymer parts for spacecraft, satellites and airplanes, as well as factory tools.
At Boeing's subsidiary Spectrolab, technician’s have adopted mobile computer carts rather than paper manuals when wiring solar panels to spacecraft. Not only are the wireless carts tidier, they help to streamline communications.
In South Carolina, employees of Boeing are testing advanced exoskeleton technology. An external wearable device that can increase the users mechanical leverage, strength or speed, as well as reducing strain and injury risks for employees.
Materials Management specialists in Washingtonare currently working with “Jennifer” - an electronic assisted transaction system. The system uses a finger scanner, small wrist computer and a headset to assist the user to find parts quicker.
Other innovations used in Washington include, automated tools that drill thousands of holes in composite empennage - tail units - for the 777 and 787 as well as install stringers in 777 and 777X wing structures. While site mechanics use optical laser templates to apply composite tape layers on airplane tails and stabilizers efficiently.
Robotic machines have also been adopted within Boeing’s facilities in washington to clean tools and produce advanced heat shields for commercial airplanes.
While many teams across Boeing are harnessing ‘smart factory’ viewing tools that show productivity metrics in a visual representation of the factory floor, Boeing is effectively harnessing this technology within its facilities in Missouri.
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Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.