BAE Systems PLC is the UK’s largest defence and aerospace manufacturer, employing 90,000 people at 200 locations globally. A major contract is the rear fuselage assemblies for the F35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to US defence giant Lockheed Martin.
The Samlesbury Engineering team are challenged with increasing the F35 production rate to one plane set per day.
One milestone was streamlining production of Nozzle Bay Doors (NBD) for the F35 STOVL(Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant. A critical step was fixture development to allow the door to be machined to tight tolerances despite its complex and varying shape.
Other strategic project aims were reducing long setup times, lower production costs and increasing part quality.
BAE Systems had already worked with MSP successfully on a number of key defence projects, including Eurofighter Typhoon, and previous F35 projects, making MSP natural partners for this new challenge.
Using NC-PerfectPart, the BAE Systems engineering team developed an innovative setup technique, known as sticky fixturing. A simple way to hold a component in its free-state while it is machined.
Conventionally components being processed similarly to the NBD were held in place on vacuum routing fixtures, however, vacuum would have distorted this configuration of component.
Working together BAE Systems and MSP developed adaptive machining on a sticky fixture utilising MSPs automated parts set up. This collaboration ensured the
team realised the challenge for the NBD.
Part setup was reduced from days to minutes leading to savings of £21m over the life of the F35 program.
The innovation and engineering excellence involved was recognised with a BAE Systems Chairman’s Gold Award.
This was the 3rd award the collaborating teams have won for their contributions to innovation and cost reduction.