MEPCA looks at a project to develop an aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) system.
Advanced Aerospace Assembly (A3L) has worked with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) through a consortium of SMEs on the Aircraft Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Configuration Capture System (AMROCCS) to transform the maintenance of aircraft.
The consortium has developed a system to provide time and cost savings alongside more effective control and management of MRO processes – using 3D capture, photogrammetry, AR visualisation and wearable technologies.
AMROCCS is a paperless maintenance system that gets real-time data to engineers undertaking MRO. It uses automated 3D and scanning data capture using wearable and handheld technologies to deliver diagnostics and customisable digital workflow instructions bespoke to each task. The results are recorded and the audit trail is updated for access either on, or off, aircraft.
The system integrates visual scanning technologies which can capture physical changes in an aircraft and when this data is applied to a digital model, the workflow instructions for a repair are generated. The system aids the engineer in diagnosing and repairing any fault and gives real-time access to online expert consultancy and training.
The three-year research project involved a full-scale industrial demonstrator being created on the shop floor of the AMRC’s Factory 2050 and played a key role in speeding up development times and bringing the product to market more quickly.
Christopher Freeman, Theme Lead for Digital Manufacturing at the AMRC’s Factory 2050 facility, explained that AMROCCS was unique in that beyond the AMRC, the consortium was made up solely of SMEs and the project was an eye-opener for digitisation opportunities within MRO. He said: “Sector influence was provided through a very knowledgeable steering group which provided the all-important industry steer. The activity opened the AMRC’s eyes to the opportunities for digitisation within the MRO space which is currently very paper process driven.
“Having completed the demonstrator project, the consortium is now looking at piloting the application in real world scenarios and continuing to develop the system to incorporate further automation and intelligence.”
The project has opened up opportunities for future research and development collaborations to investigate additional capabilities and testing the implementation of integrated technologies. One strand of work will now look at selling proof of concept programmes that can deliver immediate benefits and operational efficiencies to potential end-users.
Looking at the future of the technology and the consortium, Mike Drummond, Commercial Director at Argenta Europe, one of the consortium members, said: “We are looking at the next steps now. The innovative part of the project was not necessarily in the technologies themselves but in how they were being integrated.
“Different technologies that progressed as part of the project progressed at different rates. One is marketable and commercial and able to be implemented in a business straight away. What we are looking to do with that is negotiate and fulfil proof of concept programmes with potential end-users focused on the digital workflow element. As part of that proof of concept work we can also identify what other aspects of AMROCCS’ capabilities is useful to them.”