Delta Sigma Company
 

Airplane Mechanic’s Need for Speed Leads to U.S. Dept. of Defense Innovation Award for Delta Sigma Company

ProjectionWorks/FILLS Team Enhances Information Transfer With 3-D Projection Technology

MARIETTA, Ga., Nov. 28, 2012 – An airplane mechanic’s need for speed has led to a revolutionary change in how large, complex products are built. A pioneering technology called ProjectionWorks is saving aircraft manufacturers hundreds of hours and has earned its inventor, Delta Sigma Company of Kennesaw, Ga., one of the nation’s top manufacturing innovation awards.

ProjectionWorks is the key component of the Fastener Insertion Live Link System (FILLS), developed by a team of aerospace companies.

“This disruptive manufacturing technology has saved more than 200 hours per plane and a potential $111 million for the F-35 program alone,” said David See, Project Manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory. “FILLS will revolutionize how we assemble, maintain and repair our fleets – from jets, to submarines, to ships, to satellites.”

“The FILLS process automates data input and compares the data against original specifications," said Dave Thomas, F-35 Center Fuselage Build Manager, F-35 Joint Program Office. “This allows mechanics on the assembly line to see the most recent information relative to any aircraft or product they are working on, in order to install the right part in the most efficient and accurate manner. Now, dozens of mechanics on the F-35, P3, C-5 and C-130 production lines are using Delta Sigma’s ProjectionWorks 3-D technology to project assembly instructions directly onto aircraft parts. The future of aircraft manufacturing has been fundamentally altered with this new technology.”

The FILLS team members – Variation Reduction Solutions, Inc., Delta Sigma, Lockheed Martin Aerospace and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems – received the 2012 Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award on Nov. 27 at the Defense Manufacturing Conference in Orlando. The team developed FILLS for F-35 production under a Small Business Innovative Research Grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The FILLS team developed an improved “digital thread process,” where digital information collected by a computer is directly linked to the factory floor. “FILLS automates the hole measurements that are done on the assembly line and stores the measurements in a database,” said Roger Richardson, Director of Business Development for Delta Sigma. “FILLS then automatically creates a list of fasteners that are brought to the assembly line. ProjectionWorks then projects a color-coded map showing where the correct fasteners are to be installed, in the sequence they are to be installed. The 3-D map includes part numbers, directions and access to an encyclopedia of information.”

 

“People have been looking at 3-D models on their computer screens for years, but the computer screen is only 2-D,” the Air Force’s See said. “For the first time in history, 3-D data can be presented that is actually 3-D! This unique capability extends the digital thread from the design engineer’s desk across the factory floor and even out to the flight line. This is important to the DoD because it allows building multiple variants of any weapon or weapons delivery system on the same line.”

“Early adopters of the ProjectionWorks technology have seen an average savings of more than 85 hours on aircraft assembly,” Richardson said. “Historically, collecting accurate data has not been the problem, but figuring out how to display that data in a useful way has been a huge challenge. The ability to optically project undistorted 3-D instructions and symbols onto contoured surfaces has completely removed that challenge.”

Partners in the FILLS program see it as a significant advance in manufacturing capability and efficiency, allowing assembly technicians around the globe to access and use the most current information.  

“FILLS changes the way we think about assembling complex structures the way that CAD programs changed the way we think about designing them,” said Joe Festa with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.“With this progressive technology, we expect to save up to $91 million for the center fuselage assembly at our Palmdale F-35 program. There’s no going back.”

 

ABOUT DELTA SIGMA COMPANY

Delta Sigma Company specializes in developing systems and tools to automate large, complex, precision assembly and manufacturing processes. It is an ISO 9001:2008 registered company, located in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Delta Sigma started more than 20 years ago by designing and building specialized radar cross section measurement equipment, and has since added aircraft manufacturing tooling and other automation processes. In 2009, Delta Sigma expanded to include 3-D Optical Projections, creating ProjectionWorks to aid in large-scale manufacturing. Delta Sigma engineers all of its own designs and software and builds all its machines in-house from the ground up, resulting in a completely custom automation solution for the customer. For more information, visit www.deltasigmacorp.com.

ABOUT THE AWARD

The 2012 Defense Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Achievement Award recognizes and honors the team members whose projects demonstrated outstanding technical accomplishments in achieving the Department of Defense ManTech Program vision to “realize a responsive world-class manufacturing capability to affordably meet warfighters' needs throughout the defense system life cycle.” The annual award is sponsored by the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel (JDMTP), and was presented on Nov. 27, 2012, at the Defense Manufacturing Conference in Orlando.
 
DSC began operations in January of 1990 in Hesperia, California. In July of 1997, DSC moved to Kennesaw, Georgia to be closer to the F-22 Raptor team which had moved from Palmdale, CA to Marietta, GA. Up until December of 1999, DSC worked exclusively on RCS (radar cross section) measurement projects. We still do that today. We have over 40 years worth of experience in-house for all kinds of specialized LO (low observables) testing. We have built everything from the antenna to the cal target, radar, data collection & processing software, RF section, pylon elevator, pylon, multi-axis target positioner, target, and motion controls for moving parts in/on the target. 
 
Starting in 2000, DSC added manufacturing and assembly capabilities to its resume. Most of our time since 2000 has been spent developing complex automated systems to replace manual aircraft manufacturing stations and eliminate bottlenecks in station cycle time. Our customers understand the processes that are needed in great detail - we understand machine vision, lasers, servos, precision motion control, and dozens of other technologies that can be applied to aircraft manufacturing. At DSC, we engineer all of our own designs and software and build all of our machines in-house from the ground up, resulting in a fully 100% custom automation solution for the customer. DSC received an ISO 9001:2008 certification in October of 2008.
 
Our president has been a keynote speaker at two Global Vision Conferences - one in Las Vegas and one in Budapest, Hungary - expanding people's understanding of what can be done with machine vision. DSC has been featured in numerous magazine articles regarding machine vision and automation.
 
In 2005, DSC began working on the concept of 3D optical projection. By 2007, we had a working prototype that could accomplish 3D projection but had a lengthy and complicated calibration process. By 2009, the calibration process was refined and formatted so that it could be run by anyone and in a reasonable time frame. Patents and trademarks were filed and the ProjectionWorks family was initiated with AssemblyWorks in October 2009.
DSC designs and builds custom machinery to automate manufacturing and assembly processes for aircraft production. DSC is a licensed Professional Engineering Firm in the State of Georgia. Our full-time staff of engineers and designers includes BSEE's, BSME's, MSEE's, and a Ph.D.ME. Our quality System is registered by BSI to ISO 9001:2008. DSC is a member of the Society of Aeronautical Engineers.
If you have a manufacturing problem with no apparent solution - give us a try. Maybe we can help.
DSC has multiple man-years of experience applying the following technologies:
 
  • 3-D Optical Projection
  • Machine Vision Guidance
  • Machine Vision Inspection
  • Machine Vision Identification
  • Servo Control Systems
  • Laser Measurements
  • Large Scale - High Precision Alignment
  • Aircraft Lift & Roll Systems
  • Custom Machine Tool Applications (drilling & milling)
  • Automated Assembly Systems
  • Robotic Systems
  • RCS: Pylon / Positioner
  • RCS: Pylon Lift Systems
  • RCS: Foam Column Rotator
  • RCS: Target Component Manipulation
  • RCS: Data Collection Software
  • RCS: Data Processing Software
  • RCS: Transmission Loss Imaging System
  • RCS: T-Loading Core System

On our PAST PROJECTS page, you can check the technology items that are of interest to you and it will highlight the machines that we have designed and built using those technologies.

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