NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Boeing Co is counting on a new kind of worker to help it reach a long-coveted target of rolling out 14 787 Dreamliners from its factories each month: half human, half robot.
The world’s largest planemaker is equipping mechanics with exoskeletons, similar to ones that allow cameramen to quickly navigate the sidelines of NFL football games, to increase their strength and speed. The high-tech suits also help reduce fatigue on repetitive tasks, such as overhead drilling.
Capability - Robot - Capability - Christopher - Reid
“You have the capability of a robot and the capability of a human being melded together,” Christopher Reid, a Boeing associate technical fellow who previously designed NASA spacesuits, told Reuters during a factory tour.
The new technology is an example a broader shift in the industry’s focus towards production, as planemakers face the task of making good on a record order boom. After a decade in which Boeing and Airbus generated massive orders fueled by the rise of China and emerging markets, the main battleground is shifting towards production strategy rather than market share.
Dreamliner - Factories - South - Carolina - Washington
At twin Dreamliner factories in South Carolina and Washington state, Boeing also plans to soon deploy Bluetooth-enabled ‘smart’ wrenches that signal if machinists apply the correct torque to a nut, and has introduced new self-driving work platforms to shave time off aircraft assembly, according to people familiar with the technologies.
Such technology investments will help the U.S. manufacturer accelerate 787 Dreamliner production to 14 a month from 12. Chief Executive officer Dennis Muilenburg announced the preliminary rate change on Wednesday, and said he expects to complete the production increase in the second quarter.
Carbon - Dreamliner - Rate - Reuters - Boeing
Building the carbon composite Dreamliner at the new rate, first reported by Reuters, is central to Boeing’s efforts to raise profit margins and claw back deferred production costs as it competes with arch-rival Airbus SE in a crowded...
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