Norbert Steinkemper

Next Generation Assembly Technology: Offical handover of the most modern fuselage panel production line to Mitsubishi heavy industries


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Broetje-Automation have finalized one of the most advanced production lines in the aerospace industry. At the MHI Hiroshima factory the final fastening system of the new panel production line for the Boeing 777-X program was completed and handed over to the customer. The two production lines include nine major fastening systems and mark a big milestone towards the digitally integrated Factory of the Future.

Over nine years of work MHI and Broetje-Automation have established a very close and trustful collaboration to create the most advanced manufacturing facility in the entire aerospace industry. Starting with initial factory planning and engineering on technical as well as commercial level, over several machine projects to an integrated digital line management system – both partners have been laying the ground for an impressive step ahead towards the fully digitally interconnected and highly flexible panel assembly facility of today that sets new standards in terms of quality and efficiency.

Flexibility, Throughput and Quality

The ambition was to establish a manufacturing and production system that can quickly follow production fluctuations and cost reductions and in the same time takes the quality of the aircraft products to a new level of perfection. Thanks to a flow line concept its possible to assemble multiple panel types of different sizes and shapes in the same line while increasing throughput and quality significantly.

With the handover of the final of in total nine fastening systems – a Frame Clip Assembly Cell (FRAC) the multi-year project for panel production and assembly now comes to an end. Broetje-Automation assisted during all the project steps to bring this complex task to an outstanding outcome. Both lines enable highly flexible, efficient, and precise production.

State of the art Fastening Machines

The two lines incorporate six Multi Panel Assembly Cells (MPAC) utilizing the latest fastening technologies such as automated lower tool changers and the newly developed active upper head squeeze process to reduce the shank gap dramatically. This value far exceeds the technical requirements and underlines the excellent quality of the system.

Additionally, three Frame Clip Assembly Cells (FRAC) are completing the lines equipped with stacking axes for faster and high-precision assembly of the inner structure of the fuselage panels. The working level of these machines was lowered thanks to an innovative machine configuration that provides a very good accessibility and allows ergonomic maintenance in addition this concept provides higher accuracy and rigidity compared to conventional industrial robotic systems. This increases the efficiency of the workshop and preserves the health of the personnel.

Smart Factory Integration

All fastening systems are digitally interconnected and fully integrated. Based on the combination of a Digital Twin, a full Siemens Sinumerik 840D integration and Broetje’s Offline Programming System SOUL OLPS V5, a live simulation of all NC programs can be performed even during the programming cycle. This not only dramatically speeds up NC programming. With real NC-Machine data, it is also possible to avoid emerging problematic situations and collision risks to keep the quality level high and production costs low.

The digital MES integration of both lines with the latest development stage of Broetje’s Line Management System marks another milestone that leads to a successful integration of the complex components of the assembly line towards the Factory of the Future. A shared labor pool including exchangeable NC programs and a detailed data collection ensure full visibility of each state of production in real time. The SOUL Job Control software enables far-reaching (re-)organization of the work orders for the machines via a digital interconnected backbone, if necessary. NC-programs can be shared and redistributed between multiple machines to optimize throughput and overall equipment efficiency of the entire line.

BA Japan to provide on-site services

To round off the previous development, Broetje-Automation now continues to provide on-site service and maintenance support through its subsidiary BA Japan after the successful implementation of the plant.

“A production line can only be successful on the long term, if it runs smoothly over the entire lifecycle.” comments Jonas Wermter, Key Account Manager at Broetje-Automation, and previous project manager of the MHI Hiroshima project. “Good service and proximity to the customer has been a major success factor for our company and is the basis for business improvement for our customers. Therefore, good service is one of the core values of our company and we are committed to this promise. After finalizing this challenging but also very rewarding project, we see our joint vision to establish the most advanced panel assembly line of the entire industry become reality.” Wermter adds.

We look forward to continuing to work on exciting and new solutions for our customers in the future.


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Insight into production hallway Mitsubishi Heavy Industries web

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Visualization of a digital production line

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