The Technology Innovation department is an important part of our Global Supply Chain and plays a particularly critical role given the highly demanding nature of the aeronautical industry and market. Technology Innovation oversees all operations, research activities and studies necessary to ensure that our products achieve the highest level of technological innovation. The only way to do this is to focus on production or machining processes, as it is impossible to obtain a technologically advanced product without an equally advanced manufacturing process. To produce a blade that will be mounted on a turbine for example, the starting point is the metallic materials used to manufacture the blade. The material must therefore undergo a specific study to determine whether it satisfies the requirements of strength and capacity required by the blade when operating on the engine. The next step is the machining processes, which must achieve the highest possible degree of innovation. Only by doing this is it possible to ensure that our blade will stand apart from all its competitors on the market.
With a 9-person team based in Rivalta working in cooperation with colleagues at the Avio Aero factories in Italy and Poland, Technology Innovation develops new manufacturing processes to support product development and improve the competitiveness of our production processes. The activities are linked to the work of the Budgeting department, which consists of 6 people responsible for making technical assessments and quotes so as to enable offers to be prepared for customers (based on knowledge and calculation of the technological and innovative content of the finished product).
Product research and innovation and a knowledge of market requirements in terms of technologies and target costs are crucial for guaranteeing the continuity of our business. Bearing in mind these goals, our colleagues’ work involves searching for production solutions that maintain cost control and high quality, and studying which items of equipment or machinery will enable us to design and manufacture finished products with a high content of technological innovation.
In recent years our company has made substantial progress in terms of the methods and equipment we use for production. Automatic coupling operations using anthropomorphic robots have now been introduced at all our facilities, replicating operations that were previously performed manually and guaranteeing a level of quality and conformity that can only be achieved by an automatic processing system.
This team’s work makes a major contribution to the finished product and to large-scale engine programs, such as the work carried out to create the manufacturing system for the Case LPT for the new Leap-X engine. For this Waspaloy engine case, the Brindisi facility will be able to make use of a flexible system consisting of a series of processing machines interlocked with automatic transfer devices, which in turn will be managed by a central control system to optimize usage and to balance the process stages.
Likewise, AvioPolska is designing automatic interlocked manufacturing cells in which stator blade machining performed on 5-axis grinding machines will benefit from active feedback based on dialogue with the connected measuring machine.
This team recently made two technological improvements to our production process in partnership with specialists at the various sites: digital X-Ray and the visual blade inspection Robot.
The digital X-Ray allows X-ray plates (previously used for this kind of control of surface abnormalities such as cracks and damage to metal parts, analogously to traditional medical X-rays) to be replaced with reusable plates based on the use of scanners, PCs and monitors. In a similar way to the transition from analogue to digital photography, this machine will enable us to reduce costs by 80%. A total of 5 units will be installed in Borgaretto, 2 in Pomigliano and one in the laboratories in Rivalta (the first two machines delivered to date are currently in operation in Borgaretto and Pomigliano). This innovation will also help reduce the environmental impact associated with consumables. Before being put into operation, the machines delivered undergo extensive validation by the team members directly responsible for the X-Ray process.
The Blades centre of excellence in Pomigliano has adopted a machine that uses an automatic system to perform visual testing of the rotor blades: a robot uses a video camera to process images and identify all imperfections by means of dedicated software. It is certainly much more reliable than the human eye and avoids subjecting human operators to the visual fatigue that such high-precision surface control requires. Testing times are improved, but above all the system makes an objective evaluation of the surface, bringing clear benefits in terms of final quality.