After years of planning and expenditure, Boeing will be scrapping some of the robots used to assemble the 777X. The manufacturer has determined that human intervention is more effective.
The Seattle Times reports that Boeing made the announcement to drop the mechanical process on Wednesday. This is after the company spent millions of dollars on the technology, over a period of six years.
The news comes after a series of delays involving the 777X. Furthermore, as the aircraft gets closer to being ready, it is seeing continuous setbacks. It was reported last week that one of its GE9X engines was damaged prior to its first flight. The combination of these issues has meant that the type won’t be delivered until early 2021.
The old way, the best way
In an effort to smooth out the production process, Boeing will revert to a more traditional method of working. The airline states that this has proven to be more reliable as it requires less work by hand, along with less rework than what robots have been able to do.
The mechanical way involved holding the large curved metal panels that consist of the airliner’s fuselage segments. The machines then connect these panels and drill holes. They also placed 60,000 fasteners as part of the task. Now, real people will be enabled to be more involved with this job.
Called the Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB), Boeing previously introduced this technology to improve workplace safety and build on product quality. At the time of introduction, some workers welcomed the change due to the strenuous processes involved. Boeing employees spoke about the robotic approach on the company’s website.
“It’s really hard on your shoulders. It’s hard on your hands,” said mechanic Steve Blanchett, as shared by Boeing.
“It saves so much time. And it saves our bodies.”
However, the robots caused some damaged fuselages. Meanwhile, other fuselages couldn’t be finished by them, so they had to be completed by a human.
Whether the reshuffle in manufacturing enables jobs for more workers or increases the workload for existing employees remains to be seen. Nonetheless, Boeing will be determined to have no further slowdowns in the launch.
The company has been going through a lot of pressure this year, especially with the 737 MAX crisis. It will be hoping to see positive advancements with both the 777X and 737 MAX by the time the 2020s are in full swing.
Simple Flying reached out to Boeing for comment in the changes but didn’t hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.
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