Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Electronic Gantry Applied Drilling System
Northrop Grumman is in the process of developing an automated drilling system that will eliminate the use of drill jigs, fixtures, and hoods in the assembly process. A study, conducted to determine the capabilities of tools on the market, revealed nothing was currently available to meet the complex requirements of automating the drilling process for the aircraft industry. Existing equipment, currently used in high-rate production applications by the automotive industry, did not provide the needed flexibility of aircraft design requirements. An Integrated Product Team for technology implementation determined that there was enough justification to proceed with an in-house development of a machine to solve this problem.
The Electronic Gantry Applied Drilling System (EGADS) being developed is a computer numerical control, multi- axis drilling system that will replace hand drilling and countersinking operations now performed at the assembly stations. Based on coordinate measuring machine technology, EGADS will not only be able to manufacture the part, but also will certify that the specification requirements for the part have been met. Other features include alerting operators when a drill needs to be changed; adjusting speeds and feeds according to changing torque values; and continuous diagnostic testing inside the machine and controller during operation.
By applying this technology, Northrop Grumman will have a simple, low cost, automated solution to the current hole drilling and countersinking problems found throughout the aircraft industry. The company plans to install EGADS on the vertical stabilizer tools for the manufacture of the F/A-18 E/F aircraft by November 1997. Northrop Grumman will also continue to expand the system’s parts capabilities during the life cycle of this program.
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