Aircelle is one of the leading players in the global nacelle market. It produces large and small nacelles, thrust reversers and aerostructures. A subsidiary of SAFRAN, Aircelle employs 3 000 people on seven different sites located in France, England and Morocco. The company uses three Creaform HandyPROBE systems at its sites in Morocco and Le Havre, France, for controlling the inverter doors of different models of aircraft.
The company was looking for a photogrammetry solution that would enable inexperienced operators to properly control inverter doors, and that would comply with the production rates expected from the site.
Two sides of the same coin… or rather, the same door!
More specifically, the project consisted in controlling peripheral flushes and gaps (surface points and edges) for inverter doors. The main difficulty lied in the fact that the doors needed to be controlled on both sides, thus turned over during the measurement, without losing their alignment. Moreover, the referencing process was fairly complex, since the ball joint axles to be probed were physically hard to reach.
The dynamic alignment of the HandyPROBE portable CMM and the automatic reference tracking based on reflectors made it possible to drastically reduce the measuring time as well as to make measurements more reliable (by lowering operator-related errors). Creaform additionally developed guiding tools within the Delcam PowerInspect software, which provide step-by-step assistance for operators. Through this software, each point to be measured is visualized as a target on the CAD view, precisely indicating where to probe and refusing to validate a result if the point was measured incorrectly. The measurement values are then exported into an Excel file, which exactly reproduces the previous data layout used by Aircelle.
Three times faster
Simultaneously, a partnership was concluded between Aircelle and Seroma, a company that was not only an official Aircelle supplier, but also a longtime partner of Creaform. Since Seroma was already familiar with the photogrammetry technology developed by Creaform, the firm was able to design and manufacture tooling jigs that were optimized for this type of measurement.
Perhaps the most dramatic benefit of the solution as a whole was shortening the control time of an inverter door to 15 minutes, when Aircelle had established a goal of 45 minutes!
The project started with designing the tooling jig, integrating feedback from existing Aircelle solutions. This phase was conducted on three continents, between the offices of Seroma in France, those of Creaform in Grenoble and Quebec, and with the ongoing input of Aircelle.
While the tooling jigs were manufactured, Creaform developed the software tools with the help of Delcam, using an inverter door graciously lent by Aircelle.
HandyPROBE Benefits – Productivity and ROI
Of course, this project could have been done with traditional measurement solutions such as CMM or measuring arms. However, through its experience on previous projects, Aircelle was aware that these traditional solutions would not make it possible to achieve such a quick control time and such a level of accuracy in a relocation context, at the same low cost. A detail worth mentioning: the price of the Creaform solution was extremely competitive when compared to solutions offered by others.
The HandyPROBE technology makes it possible to control a new inverter door every fifteen minutes, which represents an overall potential of 80 aircrafts per month. This value is largely compatible with the expected on-site productivity. According to Mr. Arnaud, Rochon, from the Aircelle Methods Department, “the HandyPROBE system enables us to greatly reduce the operator- or tool-related error rate, as opposed to the measuring arms or manual control jigs we used in the past”.