Boeing Contract Awarded for C-17 Major and Wing Join Tool Upgrades

Boeing Contract Awarded for C-17 Major and Wing Join Tool Upgrades

ORMEC aircraft assembly tooling upgradesORMEC  has been awarded a major contract from The Boeing Company (Boeing), Long Beach, California, USA, for hardware and software retrofits and upgrades of two Wing Join tools and one Major Join tool used in the manufacture of the Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft.

This latest contract award, incorporating ORMEC’s SMLC family of motion controllers, SD‐Series servo drives and WinCC software, is the second in three years. Previously, ORMEC was Boeing’s supplier of choice for the control systems on the under‐wing maintenance tool for the C‐17 Globemaster III, delivered to Robins Air Force Base in Houston County, GA.

The airframe manufacturing and assembly process incorporates use of both Wing Join and Major Join tools. The Wing Join tool is used to position the two major sections of the aircraft wing and hold them in place while they are permanently assembled to form one massive wing, which is ultimately assembled onto the aircraft. This tool is controlled by a number of jacks holding the wing in place; the wing sections must be positioned for a seamless fit, and then locked in place so that the mechanical join can be completed. The Major Join tool holds the four major pre‐assembled aircraft sections together. The center section of the aircraft fuselage is placed atop of jacks, then positioned and leveled, followed by the aircraft nose, assembled wing and tail section. In order for these airframe components to be properly joined, use of high‐precision and high‐reliability servo systems and software is essential. Retrofits will improve airframe assembly operations by increasing reliability and will substantially reduce long term maintenance costs. This upgrade will also enhance the user interface which, in turn, will make the tools easier to use and more effective.

More than a dozen SMLC controllers and nearly sixty SD‐Series servo drives will be used for communication, motion control and monitoring of each join tool. The systems are controlled through the use of operator interface consoles with touch screens for ease of use and remote pendants for flexibility. Available in 3‐, 8‐ and 16‐axis models, the SMLC family offers the benefits of both motion control and PLC functions within a single package. With high‐performance computing capability and a true real‐time operating system powered by Intel® 32‐bit processors, the SMLC is able to provide cost‐effective, robust computing power for even the most demanding multi‐axis motion and I/O control applications.

Notes VP of Marketing and Sales, Dennis Morrow, “ORMEC is grateful to The Boeing Company for the ongoing faith they have placed in the quality of our products and the expertise of or engineering staff to support critical airframe assembly tooling. The ability to cost‐effectively retrofit the Major Join and Wing Join tools is a core competency of ours, utilizing our latest hardware and our applications and software engineering expertise. We look forward to supporting similar requirements, both for Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers around the world.”


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