AGV System for F-35 Assembly

Aerospace Industry

Summary

Wheelift designed and built an automatically guided vehicle (AGV) system in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 Lightning II Program manufacturing facilities.

Challenge.

Provide a flexible AGV path system within a large, complex facility that requires multiple low-profile, high-capacity vehicles to carry out manufacturing processing and tooling.

Solution.

Wheelift engineered and built a free-range AGV fleet that integrates with the facility’s central control and indication server (C&I) to route product throughout the assembly process.

Features.

  • 5 total transporters
    • 3 transporters at 84” x 168” x 24.5” with 25,000 pound capacities
    • 2 transporters at 130” x 198” x 24.5” with 75,000 pound capacities
  • Low-profile, compact chassis with lift
  • Omni-directional travel with precision control
  • Free-range navigation system that can change and grow as the facility does
  • 100% RFID tracking of tooling and WIP
  • Aerospace F-35 Transporter and AGV

    Wheelift transporters help assemble F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

  • Aerospace AGV System

    A flexible manufacturing environment using Wheelift AGV transporters.

  • Heavy Load Aerospace Assembly

    Each Wheelift transporter undergoes a rigorous series of testing before deployment.

  • Aerospace Aircraft Assembly F-35

    With their low profiles, “Headless” Wheelift transporters can travel under relatively small spaces.

  • Aerospace Aircraft Assembly Transporter

    Wheelift transporters can help with more than moving loads, they can be part of the manufacturing or assembly process.

About the Product.

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, formerly the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) Program, is the U.S. Department of Defense's focal point for affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies.

The primary goal of JSF is affordability, which is achieved by controlling the production and development costs as well as reducing the cost of ownership. A key element in turning this goal into reality was the creation of an amazingly flexible manufacturing environment that enables customer-specific product versions based on unique application requirements.

The C&I server is the heart of the system that stores and manages all manufacturing processes and protocol. It communicates with the AGV server, which manages all tooling/work in progress (WIP) moves and integrates priority routing, safety, maintenance, power consumption, and fault tracking. This complex system integration allows the AGVs to travel to any machine within any process, and to any support area within the facility.

Wheelift applied Savant's "Free-Range" navigation technology, including a peer-to-peer intelligent vehicle communications network. The system provides flexibility for today's needs along with tomorrow's requirements as process cells get added and production ramps up.

The JSF facility saw the following benefits:

  • Eliminated external mechanisms and improved tooling access
  • Increased accuracy with precise omni-directional movements and dock interface design
  • Routing flexibility to adjust to growth

If your manufacturing processes need the efficiency of automation, get in touch.

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