Six automation companies have joined forces to develop new flexible manufacturing processes the aerospace industry. The consortium was formed to reduce time-to-production cycles and capital expenditures by developing a new production model that includes new generations of flexible robots, sensors and intelligent fixturing.

The group includes KUKA Robotics, Clinton Township, Mich., an industrial robots manufacturer; Composite Systems, Arnold, Calif., program management and systems integration; Programming Plus, New Berlin, Wis., CAD/CAM integration; New River Kinematics, Williamsburg, Va., sensor integration; Faro Technologies, Lake Mary, Fla., laser registration systems; EOA Systems, Carrollton, Tex. automated robotic drilling tools; and Weber Screwdrivers, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., automated screw feeding and fastening systems. Initially, the consortium will focus on airframes and aerospace structures for commercial aircraft.

The group and aerospace manufacturers are identifying key programs that would benefit from their new datadriven approach to robotic manufacturing in aerospace. Early emphasis is on drilling and riveting operations, historically both labor and tooling-intensive operations.