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AMRC Cymru helps build smart production lines at Collins
Thursday, 30 November 2023
The Smart Workstation is designed to analyse processes to improve efficiency and provide insight into alternative, more efficient paths forward. A person can operate it with limited experience.

A new concept assembly process has been developed by AMRC Cymru for Collins Aerospace for its actuation systems site in Wolverhampton.

Part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, AMRC Cymru was tasked with developing a Smart Assembly and Inspection Demonstrator (SAID), and given a deadline of just ten weeks. To meet the deadline it used computer-aided design (CAD) along with existing technological systems such as the LightGuide Smart Workbench - including projector, monitor and camera - and DIOTA augmented reality software.

The result is a hi-tech Smart Workstation which can operate in any language, enabling workers of all experience and abilities to assemble a gearbox via a much simpler, paperless method.

Collins Aerospace implemented a demonstration station at its Midlands site, housed in its technology development area, and hosted a number of sessions with people throughout the organisation.

The Smart Workstation solution is designed to analyse processes to improve efficiency and provide insight into alternative, more efficient paths forward. The programme-controlled build process helps maintain compliance with the approved manufacturing and assembly method.

From a training and flexibility perspective, a person can operate the Smart Workstation with limited experience and be taught the build process step-by-step, which ensures process outputs are consistent. Being very intuitive, the potential of the technology can also help improve operations efficiency and quality while improving health and safety of operators.

With direction from the LightGuide, and such an easy-to-follow process which logs time and every step and movement of the manufacturing process, the general consensus among users who tested the demonstrator was that it would have a 'significant and beneficial' impact.

Gareth Towlson, senior manufacturing research engineer at AMRC Cymru, a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult network, led the team at the Broughton facility to ensure the workstation has the capacity to be tailored to a variety of requirements.

“To see the Smart Workstation already in development at Wolverhampton is fantastic, it's testament to how hard we have worked in partnership to find a solution, within budget and deadline,” says Towlson. “We had a vision but ultimately it is their product, their factory and their workforce so we had to ensure it was bespoke to their needs, and through collaboration we have done so successfully.

“We've already had interest from other sectors and high-value manufacturers as the technology can be applied in many different ways. Through our dedicated and experienced team of research engineers we have the skills and expertise to work with customers in any arena, to meet critical timescales and exceed their goals. That's something we will be looking to achieve with other organisations in the future.”

Contact details from our directory:
Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Casting, Composite Manufacturing Services, Research/Consulting Services, Training
Collins Aerospace, Mechanical Systems - Actuation Angle of Attack Indicators, Electrohydrostatic Actuators, Electromechanical Actuators, Flap/Slat Mechanisms, Hydraulic Actuators, Rotary Actuators
Collins Aerospace
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Personnel & Training