To gather information for our current and future CHDP projects, my team organized a trip to the Boeing facility in Charleston, South Carolina. We were joined by several other teams working on a variety of projects involving drilling, FOD detection, and airplane accessibility. The picture on the right shows the entire group standing in front of the Dreamlifter, a huge plane that is used to transport parts for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The main goal of my subteam was to learn about and see the current airplane manufacturing drilling process to determine what we should be focusing on as we continue development of our drilling cobot. We wanted to know what the current drilling conditions are, and we wanted to know what areas could use improvement. The members of my subteam who went on the trip are, from left to right: Carynne Posey, Olivia Leonard, myself, Lauren Reynolds.
While we weren’t able to take pictures inside the facility, we saw many exciting and relevant places. We saw the Midbody, Aft Body, and Final Assembly buildings, all of which have operations requiring drilling. We saw the QuadBot in action, a robot with four large mechanical arms that can drill holes and insert fasteners with the help of a human inside the plane section. In the Component Paint building, we saw FANUC robot arms that can sand and paint airplane sections.
In the short term, our main takeaway for our project this year is that our cobot should focus on hand drilling since many large-scale robots are already in use. To be useful to mechanics, our cobot should be adapable, portable, and have an intuitive user interface.
In the long term, we want to use what we saw on this trip to inform our future projects. Now that we have seen the airplane manufacturing process firsthand, we are better prepared to define and solve problems over our next two years in the program.