Northrop Grum­man’s F-35 as­sem­bly line bags ‘As­sem­bly Plant of the Year’ award


Northrop Grum­man Cor­po­ra­tion’s F-35 in­te­grated as­sem­bly line (IAL) was named “As­sem­bly Plant of the Year” by As­sem­bly Mag­a­zine in recog­ni­tion for the fa­cil­ity’s world­class pro­cesses to re­duce costs, in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and im­prove qual­ity. Northrop Grum­man is the first aero­space com­pany to re­ceive this award.

In­spired by au­to­ma­tion sys­tems used by au­tomak­ers, the IAL was de­signed and de­vel­oped by Northrop Grum­man, work­ing with Detroit-based KUKA Sys­tems Cor­po­ra­tion’s Aero­space Di­vi­sion, a com­mer­cial au­to­ma­tion in­te­gra­tor. The IAL is cen­tral to pro­duc­ing the F-35’s cen­tre fuse­lage as well as driv­ing new lev­els of ef­fi­ciency into the man­u­fac­tur­ing process, re­duc­ing process times, in­creas­ing pre­ci­sion and qual­ity, and re­duc­ing pro­duc­tion costs.

“Northrop Grum­man has been a leader in de­sign­ing, de­vel­op­ing, and ap­ply­ing au­to­mated sys­tems to the com­plex task of as­sem­bling mod­ern fighter air­craft,” said Brian Chap­pel, Vice Pres­i­dent of the F-35 pro­gramme for Northrop Grum­man Aero­space Sys­tems. “The IAL is one ex­am­ple, where Northrop Grum­man max­imises ro­bot­ics and au­to­ma­tion, pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity and as­sem­bly ca­pa­bil­ity while meet­ing engineering tol­er­ances that are not eas­ily achieved us­ing man­ual meth­ods.”

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