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Precision work for aircraft engine manufacturers

When manufacturers in the aircraft industry construct jet engines for civil and military aircrafts, they must move a great number of parts and tools from the tooling center to the assembly line, in another building, on a daily basis. They also need to have the means of identifying parts throughout the entire process. In doing so, they must comply with numerous anti-FOD (Foreign Object Damage) regulations and standards. It is at this stage that these industry giants turn to SkinPack.

SkinPack is a French company that specializes in packaging that bring high added value as well as solutions for workspace optimization. One important service that this company offers, especially to companies in the aeronautical sector, is their kitting tray solution. These sophisticated parts carriers are used for transporting, protecting and optimizing production flows for all the parts that need to be assembled into one product, offering practical solutions for risks related to FOD and quality shortfalls.

Example of a kitting tray filled with parts

Example of a kitting tray

Safran Aircraft Engine, a major player in the design, manufacture and maintenance of civil and military aircraft engines, recently made use of SkinPack’s expertise in connection with the production of their LEAP-1A engine, which is replacing the CFM-56. This engine, which is used in aircraft of the A320/B737 and COMAC type, is produced on an assembly line that must be able to manufacture more than 37 engines per week. Such a high production rate demands flawless organization from the logistics and assembly teams.

Manufacture of trays

After consulting with the Safran Aircraft Engine logistics team, the SkinPack team created a design and production process to manufacture custom trays.

The first step in this project was to scan every single part of the LEAP-1A engine. SkinPack chose the  HandySCAN BLACK | Elite 3D scanner from Creaform for this task, for its accuracy, measurement rate, high resolution and portability. The procedures had to be performed on site at the Safran Aircraft Engine premises without interfering with the company’s normal activities.

Employee using a HandySCAN 30 BLACK to digitize parts in front of a laptop displaying the digital model Employee using a HandySCAN 30 BLACK to digitize parts in front of a laptop displaying the digital model

Scanning of aeronautical parts with the HandySCAN BLACK

Top view of an employee using a HandySCAN 30 BLACK to digitize parts in front of a laptop displaying the digital model

Once the team has finished the scanning, the files are processed in VXelements, Creaform’s 3D data acquisition software. The SkinPack team used this software to perform all the necessary adjustments and other post-processing steps before exporting the files to a CAD software.

Print screen of the VXelements software displaying the digitized parts

Screenshot of parts scanned in the VXelements data acquisition software

After completing this step, the team could start with the design and ergonomic optimization of the trays themselves, aligned with the client’s methods and logistics, before proceeding with validation of the 3D visuals.

Finally, it was time to begin the various stages of production of the trays: SkinPack’s specific and patented membrane projection, high-precision CNC machining of the foam for the trays, and lastly the addition of identification, coding and counting components.

CNC high-precision machining of foam for trays

CNC high-precision machining of foam for trays

The kitting trays were then sent to the tool store for transfer to the assembly line, which is located in another building 200m away. Four sets of trays had to be delivered each day, because each part of the LEAP-1A engine had to be transported using these trays.

In total, this project represented more than 1,500 parts scanned on Safran Aircraft Engine premises, the production of 36 different trays, sometimes scored to be divisible, with the exact impressions of the engine parts and space for all the fastening parts on removable foam blocks for processing by another workshop. To date, SkinPack has produced over 900 trays for this project alone.

Three red and black machined kitting tray ready to receive parts

Machined kitting tray ready to receive parts

A step ahead of the competition

Using the HandySCAN BLACK | Elite scanner has enabled SkinPack to set itself apart from the competition. In fact, the speed of implementation and the high degree of precision of data acquired of a wide variety of materials played a crucial role, since these measurements had to be taken on site. In addition, without scanning the parts and creating a digital library, it would have been more complex and time-consuming to obtain the exact impressions of the parts for precise machining of the foam blocks.

The speed with which the images are captured and the highly intuitive post-processing operations of the VXelements software have made it possible for SkinPack to offer a solution that is more time- and cost-efficient than any offered by the competition. Scanning the parts also makes it possible for SkinPack to establish an inventory and a digital lineup for each task that was performed on the engine – a major advantage for future plants projects.

Oscar Llinares, Manager of SkinPack, explains that “producing foams in the exact shape could not have been achieved without this technology from Creaform”, then adds that “the ease of use,  of implementation and rapid data acquisition make it possible to minimize the impact on our client’s activities during scanning operations.” He concludes by saying that “data acquisition has become the cornerstone of our entire business. Sooner or later, all our physical and digital solutions have to go through a data acquisition process.”

Oscar Llinares gérant de SkinPack tenant dans ses mains un plateau de kitting rouge et noir

Oscar Llinares, gérant de SkinPack.

About SkinPack

SkinPack, a French company based in Châtellerault, is an innovative player in the field of solutions aimed at protecting and controlling parts, and optimizing flows and human operations in aeronautics, aerospace and defense. The company offers services that improve ergonomics through specific parts carriers (trays, boxes, foams) and workstation arrangement, in addition to offering practical solutions to the risks related to FOD and shortfalls in quality.

With its tangible innovations and renowned expertise, SkinPack supports its customers in the ramping up of business sectors involved in processing, assembly, disassembly and installation. The company facilitates the transition to Industry 4.0 by enabling location of parts and sub-assemblies via their carriers, and integrating virtual and augmented reality in the organization of production resources through the implementation of assembly lineups in augmented reality.

Black and white SkinPack logo

Article written by Creaform

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