Material Handling for Aerospace Manufacturing

Aerospace material handling often faces many challenges. Aerospace engineering is a branch of engineering that concerns itself with the design, development, testing, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, and related equipment and systems. There is a vast difference between aerospace engineering and aeronautical engineering. While aerospace engineering focuses on designing both aircraft and spacecraft used within and out of the earth’s atmosphere, aeronautical engineering focuses on the aircraft operating within the earth’s atmosphere. 

In Aerospace, many parts come up with defects during inspection due to mishandling or accidents that result in parts bumping into each other while being moved from process to process. This problem can be solved with electrostatically treated corrugated plastic containers that come with dividers. Flexcon’s corrugated containers with dividers present an excellent solution for protecting parts during transport for aerospace manufacturing and maintenance operations.

Parts for Aerospace Maintenance

Aerospace technologies and parts are intricate and pricey because industry applications usually require components with integrated functions. Most parts are made from advanced materials that are difficult, costly, and time-consuming to manufacture. Damage during the shipping process is a big deal and can erode profits. 

Maintaining and replacing old parts is a considerable cost for the industry. There is a need to invest in a better Aerospace material handling solution that allows for the parts to be quickly and securely shipped and installed in broken aircraft to help them get back in the air.

Types of Materials Used

Rare earth metals and compounds are used to make aerospace parts. Advanced materials, such as titanium alloys, nickel-based super-alloys, special steels, or ultra high-temperature ceramics are often used. These materials can handle the pounding that aircraft and satellites take in different atmospheres or lack of atmospheric pressure. The materials allow for the surface coating to handle solar flares from radiation.

Specialized Manufacturing Processes

When manufacturing aerospace parts, metal structures, and 3D printing techniques are leveraged to fabricate some parts. These technologies are often used to manufacture items that are not mass-produced. Advanced manufacturing techniques and technologies help preserve the integrity of these components.

Aspects of Handling Parts

Material handling in aerospace manufacturing involves the movement, protection, storage, and control of materials used in manufacturing and maintenance. As a process, handling parts leverages manual, semi-automated, and automated systems designed to support logistics and supply chain processes. There are several parts of the material handling system. These include:

Automated storage and retrieval systems: Automated storage and retrieval systems or ASRS or AS/RS leverage cutting-edge technologies to automatically place and retrieve parts from storage locations. These are computer-controlled systems that boast high precision, accuracy, and speed.

Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs): AGVs are computer-controlled wheeled-based load carriers that move along the floor of a facility without a driver. The vehicles are controlled via a combination of software and sensor-based guidance systems. AGV applications range from transportation of raw materials and work in processes to finished goods needed in manufacturing production lines.

Automatic identification and data collection: Automatic identification and data collection are used to identify and track parts. They identify, verify, record, and store data in discrete or containerized items needed in manufacturing. Some of the typical technologies that help gather information quickly and accurately include barcodes, scanners, and imagers.

Casters and wheels: Casters and wheels are mounted on the underside of the equipment to make it easy for machinery or personnel to transport items from one location to the other.

Controls: Material handling control systems have hardware, sensors, and software to direct and report the status of electrical and hydraulic powered industrial equipment. The systems also direct product movement and positioning for subsequent operations. 

Conveyors: Conveyors are devices used to move materials, products, and loads throughout manufacturing and distribution. They allow for loads to ride on top of rollers or a belt traveling along a fixed path with specific points for loading and discharge.

Dock equipment: Loading dock equipment is used during the loading and unloading processes to ensure the safety of workers and the loads when entering and exiting the trailer. 

Ergonomics: Ergonomic equipment improves the safety and well-being of operators who work long hours in aerospace manufacturing and warehousing facilities. Ergonomic equipment is often used to lift a worker or item to the desired height where they can comfortably complete a job. They can also tilt a load for picking or rotate a component for additional assembly.

Flexcon Offers End-to-End Solutions to Ensure Better Material Handling

Flexcon’s end-to-end containers solutions help optimize material handling by ensuring that delicate and hard-to-source products arrive safely to their destinations is business-critical. We specialize in end-to-end, tailor-fit systems and have over 150 years of experience designing the right solutions for its customers. We now provide vertical lift dividers for virtually any application. Our material handling containers with dividers fit ASRS pans/trays for Kardex, Modula, Hanel, Schaefer, System Logistics, Sencorp White, and many more machines. Contact us today to learn more.