Automated Fastener Installation System

Period of Performance: 01/24/2012 - 01/24/2014


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Variation Reduction Solutions, Inc.
14901 Galleon Court
Plymouth, MI 48170
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: Sorting, solvent-cleaning, promoting, delivering, sealing and installing 30,000 fasteners per day is a critical task required for full-rate production of the F-35 Lightning II. These 30,000 fasteners are comprised of approximately 350 unique part numbers and each must receive one of three different promoter solutions and sealers, each with time-limited properties. Preparing the fasteners in a way that does not result in an equal number of daily machine cycles is essential to prevent excessive Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) issues over the long F-35 program life. To meet the technical requirements as well as the larger system robustness challenge, VRSI has established a process to prepare the fasteners with over 300 times fewer machine cycles than an individually prepared fastener process. This also results in less complexity, moving parts, system cost and time to prepare. The system consists of modular commercial and custom-designed sub-systems integrated into an affordable manufacturing solution to solve the fastener preparation challenge. These operations are organized, controlled and prompted via an electronic Dynamic Bill of Materials (DBOM) that captures the as-built condition of the aircraft. The DBOM will be used to drive the daily fastener kitting process as well as organize the manual sealing and installation through the use of optically projected work instructions on the aircraft skin. BENEFIT: No longer will the operators spend over 60% of their day manually preparing fasteners and releasing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC s) into the work environment. No longer will thousands of additional fasteners be prepared only to be Return-To-Stores (RTS) or thrown out. No longer will F-35 fastener preparation represent such a large technical challenge. This is because VRSI and its supporting technical team has addressed and met every requirement: Safe work environment Minimum number of operators Affordable system with consistent quality Continuous digital thread from DBOM to installation 30,000 fasteners per day despite 10% random grip length variation from aircraft to aircraft Designed for low machine cycles per fastener quantities to insure optimal MTBF Near-zero return to stock using accurate DBOM Near-zero VOC control using an airless acetone cleaning system Surface preparation per the promoter specifications Blind fastener preparation system for addressing exceptions to the standard process Inventory control through electronic monitoring of incoming and outgoing fasteners Preparation and delivery in 6 hours or less (depending on variant) Completely sealed delivery containers for maximum promoter life extension Clear fastener tray labeling with part numbers and bar codes Central Human Machine Interface (HMI) system control Integration with LMA s data systems Expandable for additional fasteners, nut plates and brackets Project plan to meet MRL5, MRL6 and MRL7 demonstration requirements Successful experience transitioning technology from SBIR Phase II to production