Japanese manufacturers automate to meet growing demand for aircraft parts

Posted on 3 Nov 2015 by Aiden Burgess

Japanese manufacturers are reportedly experiencing a production boom in the country as they increase aircraft parts production for the next-generation models of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

Nabtesco is one of the manufacturers who are meeting the demand for passenger airlines by raising the production capacity of aircraft components.

Japan’s leading computerized-equipment manufacturer plans to increase the production of its actuators – a tilt-angle and flight-altitude controller attached to the primary flights and tails of aircraft.

Nabtesco has received orders of the control system for the Boeing 737 Max and 777X, with work on the new-generation aircraft expected to be undertaken at two new production sites at Nabtesco’s Gifu Prefecture plant.

The new facilities are expected to be completed by next year and are expected to double the production efficiency by introducing component assembly robots.

Nabtesco and other Japanese manufacturers have been able to become leaders of Asia’s aircraft component industry, by establishing their own quality control systems and production skills.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries have also increased their capacity to produce aircraft components.

The two manufacturers have decided to add new facilities for producing fuselages for Boeing aircraft.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries is currently building a new facility in its Nagoya Works 1 site in Aichi Prefecture.

Automation to play a key role

In a similar fashion to the new Nabtesco facilities, robots will play a major role in production at the new facility, performing tasks such as punching and riveting fuselage panels that used to be undertaken by Kawasaki Heavy workers.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will introduce advanced production management technology at its Hiroshima facilities, as it aims to maximise revenue by working out an optional production schedule based on the data collected through parts and machines.

IHI is another manufacturer which is helping to accommodate the demand for airliners by increasing its production capabilities.

The heavy industry group is planning to construct a new factory building for engine parts and fan blades used in Airbus’ new A320 Neo series.

IHI will invest several billion yen on its new facility at Nagano Prefecture which is scheduled to begin operations next year.

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IHI has set aside 30bn yen ($291m) for capital investment in 2016, which includes a new structure at its Tomioka plant in Gunma Prefecture.

In addition Jamco, a supplier of aviation interiors plans to spend $2.5bn yen ($20.6m) on the launch of production facilities capable of high-volume production for cabin lavatories and aircraft galleys. The new facilities will start operations as early as next year and supply both Airbus and Boeing.