Thales Alenia Space presents "Tomorrow's Factory"
Within this overall approach, Thales Alenia Space presents one of the key aspects of its industrial initiative, "Tomorrow's Factory", which incorporates innovative technologies while keeping people at the center of the organization. The use of state-of-the-art technologies is crucial, whether additive manufacturing, connected objects, augmented reality or the integration of robotics and cobotics (collaborative robotics) in production and integration facilities.
For example, the Saphir robotics project – developed with partners KUKA and AKEO+ – should be deployed in Thales Alenia Space's clean rooms starting in the second half of 2015. It aims to automate the installation of inserts in the composite panels used on payloads for telecommunications satellites. The solution is a workstation with two robotic arms, one to prepare the work, the other to install the inserts. Reflecting the industrial skills of Thales Alenia Space's teams, this project will considerably reduce the cycle time needed to bond the 3,000 inserts used on each panel. The aim is to reduce the time needed from three weeks for four operators to just one week by a single operator.
In addition to improving reliability and reducing cycle time and costs, this method will also eliminate repetitive, relatively arduous manual operations.
The following stage is to add a fixed cobotic arm, as well as an arm mounted on an autonomous vehicle, based on a partnership with KUKA, AKEO+ and ENSAM's Lille robotics laboratory. This entails the introduction in the industrial environment of "cobots", or collaborative robots, which can interact with operators under totally safe conditions, and therefore improve productivity and agility.
When people and machines share a workspace they combine their cognitive and physical capabilities, paving the way for a step change in efficiency and agility.
Telecom operators today want flexible, agile solutions, with innovative and reliable products, a real-time view of progress in all production steps, flawless traceability, shorter time-to-market to keep pace with other industrial sectors, shorter cycles and higher production rates. The advent of large-scale projects, such as mega-constellations, entails various technological breakthroughs – and Thales Alenia Space is gearing up to meet these challenges on all fronts.