Original Date: 05/08/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Theodolite Coordinate Measuring Systems
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace (MDA)-St. Louis has been using theodolite coordinate measurement systems since the mid-1980s to replace optical transits and tooling bars and to reduce manufacturing application and inspection times. The theodolite system is an optical measurement system for operators to map and send data points to a PC for storage and later use. The system uses two to four theodolite heads and a central computer to triangulate the position of data points for better coverage of the work envelope. Data can be collected at a rate of five points per minute using experienced operators.
MDA-St. Louis has greatly reduced set-up times on tools/fixtures and has reduced the need to move set-up and inspection equipment whenever a different area is being worked. Current inventory of these systems includes 19 four-headed theodolite systems and six two-headed theodolite systems. These existing systems are fully utilized and are essential in the collection of data for variability reduction and SPC. When down time occurs in the manufacturing area, the systems are occasionally moved to other sites and used for tool transfers or problem-solving applications.
When compared against optical tooling techniques, MDA-St. Louis estimates that the implementation of this technology will result in a five-year average savings of over $231K per year. Comparison between the F/A-18 C/D and the F/A-18 E/F manufacturing build-of-interface masters reveals an improvement of 5082 man hours, directly attributable to the application and use of theodolites in manufacturing. For the F/A-18 E/F program tool build, the MDA-St. Louis tooling center is currently 195,000 hours under budget -- also directly attributable to the use of theodolites. In the C-17 program, the MDA-St. Louis tooling center was able to directly build associated tooling by using the digital theodolite readings of the tooling master at the McDonnell Douglas west coast facility, avoiding related costs and lost time in shipping the master.
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