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May 2007 edition

Airbus adds more HMCs

By Daniel Cook

Airbus’s A320 manufacturing operation at Filton in the UK has added further horizontal-spindle machining centres (HMCs) in recent months, an Airbus source told Airframer.

The factory, which machines ribs for the ever-popular A320 aircraft as well as for the upcoming A380, now has a total of six MAG-3 HMCs and four of the larger MAG-4s up and running, the source said.

Like the MAG-4s, the MAG-3s are organised into a flexible manufacturing system (FMS), linked by a rail-guided vehicle and served by a nine-pallet handling and storage system. It is thought that all six MAG-3 HMCs are joined into a single six-machine FMS, rather than being divided into two or more centres.

The cost of three of the six FMS-linked MAG-3 machines was said to be some £5m, valuing the total MAG-3 set-up at an estimated £10m. Another £2m has been spent by Airbus Filton on a twin-pallet Makino five-axis HMC. Both systems were supplied by NCMT, the UK sales agent for Japanese machine-builder Makino.

The larger MAG-4 set up, opened in 2003, comprising four machines principally used for milling A380 wing ribs, cost a total of £16m to install, Airbus says, which means it has so far invested an estimated £28m in its flexible manufacturing operation.

For their money, they have developed an impressive “state-of-the-art” automated manufacturing system which radically reduces the man-hours required in machining ribs for the A320 and A380 aircraft lines, an engineer who is familiar with the FMS set-up ....

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NCMT Ltd Machining Systems, Machine Tools, Tooling
Airbus S.A.S. Airframer
Makino Milling Machine Co. Ltd. Milling, Machining Systems
Knowledge Technologies International, Ltd. Computer-aided Engineering

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