RTLS in Aerospace Manufacturing


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Presentation on RTLS (Real Time Location Systems) in Aerospace Manufacturing, which I gave at the RFID Journal Live show, in Orlando in April 2010.

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  • Final assembly
  • Wing manufacturing
  • May or may not have good infrastructure (power and network) in all locations
  • Tools often expensiveLast known location often good enoughBasic requirement is to find a toolSets of tools may need to be kept togetherAlso requirements that certain tools should be restricted to/from certain areas (e.g. right wing)Potentially indoor, outdoor, storage containers, in transit
  • Often location implies stage in processWant ability to define areas with entry and exit eventsAction may depend on more than just location (could pass through same location multiple times, action depends on previous steps)Sometimes track associated paperworkPotentially indoor, outdoor, in transit
  • Major value in this in coordinating distributing manufacturingVisibility across multiple plantsProduction integration“VIP” – visible industrial process (do we use this term?)
  • Automated setting of tool configuration (e.g. torque settings) based on location of tool and assemblyConfirmation that correct tool operations carried outMore common in auto but applicable to aero
  • Inside wings or other assembliesIn outdoor test areas – stray items likely to be stored in nearby containers
  • Less flexibility to change workflowsOften limitations on location of infrastructure on the building floorLess applicable to applications like tool tracking
  • Good balance of high accuracy with relatively low infrastructureVery flexible for granular workflow trackingSame infrastructure applicable for tool tracking, control, etcTypical accuracy ~1ft, depends on environment
  • TDOA only versus AOA optionSeparate communications channel (for tool control and feedback, varying tag update rates, etc)Characteristics of tags – form factor, battery life, etcIntrinsically safe required?Integration with other technologies – presence, GPS, etcSoftware platform and applications
  • Useful for areas where low precision location is acceptableGood for FOD within wings and other assemblies (other RF e.g. 2.4GHz better than UWB for penetration through metal)Good for storage containers
  • All options already discussed apply in various casesGPS is a useful addition for some use cases, especially for larger areas (don’t need infrastructure)Need last known location for GPS (aircraft shadow, metal containers etc)
  • Common tag with UWB, presence, GPS very useful for full cycle of applicationsCommon infrastructure / software platformControl channel important for switching modes
  • RTLS in Aerospace Manufacturing

    1. 1. RTLS in Aerospace Manufacturing<br />Peter Batty and Russ Chandler<br />
    2. 2. Overview<br />Environments<br />Use cases<br />Technology challenges and approaches<br />All images are from public Internet sites and are intended to be general indications of typical aerospace environments: they are not showing or implying any specific projects or customers.<br />
    3. 3. Environments<br />
    4. 4. Photo by jeffmcneill - http://flic.kr/p/6Fw3cd<br />Manufacturing / Assembly<br />
    5. 5. Manufacturing / Assembly<br />Photo provided by Boeing, via blog.seattlepi.com<br />
    6. 6. Outdoors<br />Image from Bing Maps<br />
    7. 7. Storage containers<br />
    8. 8. In transit<br />Photo by yui.kubo - http://flic.kr/p/DkT7w<br />
    9. 9. Use cases<br />
    10. 10. Tracking tools<br />Find tools<br />Keep sets together<br />Restrict to areas<br />Photo provided by Boeing, via blog.seattlepi.com<br />
    11. 11. Tracking assemblies / components<br />Location often implies process stage<br />Track assets or paperwork<br />Photo provided by Boeing, via blog.seattlepi.com<br />
    12. 12. Tracking across multiple locations<br />Distributed manufacturing<br />Process visibility<br />
    13. 13. Tool configuration<br />Configure tool settings based on location<br />Confirm operations carried out<br />Image showing Atlas Copco tools from directindustry.com<br />
    14. 14. FOD detection<br />Foreign Object Debris / DamageInside wings or other assemblies<br />Photo provided by Boeing, via blog.seattlepi.com<br />
    15. 15. Technology challenges and approaches<br />
    16. 16. Indoor location - RFID<br />Suitable for some use cases<br />Entrance and exit of assets<br />
    17. 17. Indoor location - RFID<br />Suitable for some use cases<br />Entrance and exit of assets<br />Applies to some process flows, <br />but some limitations<br />Less applicable to tool tracking<br />
    18. 18. Indoor Location - RTLS<br />Continuous location tracking<br />Sparse infrastructure<br />Very flexible<br />Common infrastructure for multiple applications<br />Ultra Wideband (UWB) most common approach<br />
    19. 19. UWB considerations<br />TDOA versus AOA<br />Communications channel<br />Tag density, range, update rate<br />Tag form factors, battery life<br />Intrinsic safety<br />Presence<br />GPS integration<br />Software platform and applications<br />
    20. 20. Indoor location - presence<br />Low infrastructure, low location accuracy<br />Fixed or mobile receivers<br />FOD within wings etc<br />Storage containers<br />
    21. 21. Outdoor location<br />Previous options applicable<br />GPS a useful addition<br />Need last known location<br />More costly, power hungry<br />Intrinsic safety<br />
    22. 22. Multi-mode solutions<br />Common tag with UWB, presence, GPS<br />Common infrastructure / software platform<br />Control channel important for switching modes<br />
    23. 23. Summary<br />Environments<br />Applications<br />Technology<br />Indoor<br />Outdoor<br />Storage<br />Transit<br />Assets<br />Tools<br />Process<br />Visibility<br />RFID<br />UWB<br />Presence<br />GPS<br />Photo by jeffmcneill - http://flic.kr/p/6Fw3cd<br />