Only digitization creates sustainable cost savings in the aviation industry

The aircraft sector in particular is being hit hard by the current travel restrictions imposed by the Corona pandemic. If the aircrafts remain grounded no new daircraft will be manufactured so the pressure to save on expenses in the long run becomes even more important!
Even before the Corona crisis, ARXUM transferred its supply chain solution from the automotive sector to aviation production and demonstrated end-to-end digitization in collaboration with the ZeMA research center. The following example illustrates the extent to which digitization and automation enable integrated processes.

ARXUM implements automated access to quality data in aircraft production:
After ARXUM presented a concrete application for warranty management in the automotive sector based on its blockchain-based ARXUM ® Suite, an application for quality assurance in the aircraft industry has now been implemented.
Aircraft manufacturing is known for high safety standards, complex tests and a high volume of associated documentation. Most of the tests are still performed manually and a large part of the documentation is available as paper or digitized paper.  Together with ZeMA – Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology – in Saarbrücken, Germany, ARXUM has implemented and presented a holistic approach to supply chain digitization in the aeronautics sector.

Innovative assembly techniques document the quality of each work step:
ZeMA demonstrated a prototype semi-automated testing of assembly processes already in 2019. In aircraft production, a semi-automated riveting process in section assembly achieves a substantial improvement through human-robot collaboration with subsequent AI-based inspection. The collaborative robot system with height adjustment unit is placed within the aircraft section. In the riveting process, the Cobot (Collaboration Robot) places the process tool, the anvil, in the correct position. The more complex tasks, such as inserting the rivet and actuating the riveting hammer, is performed by humans.
The Cobot is equipped with a force/torque sensor on the flange and can therefore monitor the riveting process in real time. In combination with additional optical sensors and a camera, the subsequent quality inspection is also automated using AI algorithms. The sensor data provide information about the quality of each individual riveting process through a pre-trained machine learning model and the result of the quality inspection is transmitted directly to the employee via mixed reality glasses.
This enables the operator to react appropriately – based on objective criteria. The quality data is stored and signed in a digital logbook, this could make analogue, paper-based documentation obsolete. The prerequisite for this is that the necessary data integrity is ensured, this is achieved by using blockchain technology or distributed ledger technology.

Process data are also of interest and value in the further supply chain; the quality data obtained in this way – or other information, e.g. on the progress of assembly – is of practical interest to other parties in the supply chain. In principle, however, production data should not be published or made freely accessible to anyone. Manufacturing companies have a high need for protection of all production related data.
On the basis of the ARXUM ® Suite, quality data of the riveting processes can be made accessible for different customers and partners in the supply chain. For this purpose, individual and specific access rules were defined on the blockchain for each partner. The data itself, however, remains securely stored in the data silo behind the firewall of the manufacturing company.

The owner of the data decides on its availability:
If a customer (e.g. the OEM or an airline) now wants concrete evidence of  quality of delivered components, the current manufacturing progress or needs access to documentation: these can be queried directly from the supplier’s database. A smart contract on the blockchain checks the access  conditions, both the access authorization and other conditions can be securely defined on the blockchain. The data itself is transmitted via a direct channel to the requesting party. While the data itself never ends up on the blockchain, all accesses to it are documented in the blockchain in an unalterable way.
With ARXUM ® Suite, the data owner is the only one who has the key to define and change the access rules, e.g. the number of accesses per month, level of detail or access only to product data whose serial numbers have really been delivered to the customer. In this case, the customer can, for example, request detailed quality information on a proportion of all riveting’s of any security-critical components. Further data accesses from the entire production process are possible and allow continuous digitization to reduce manual administration effort, increase product safety and improve the efficiency of the supply processes.
The ARXUM ® Suite creates transparency along the entire supply chain while all data owners define the rules of exchange for their own data!

About the ZeMA
The Zentrum für Mechatronik und Automatisierungstechnik gGmbH (ZeMA) conducts application-oriented research and industry-oriented development in the fields of sensor and actuator technology, manufacturing and assembly processes and their automation. It offers a broad research spectrum with the aim of industrialization and the transfer of research and development results to industry and to the factory floor.

ARXUM, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is an innovative start-up that applies blockchain technology exclusively in the production environment and revolutionizes supply chain management processes. ARXUM makes product and production data available to other partners in the supply chain and enables the data owner to have complete control via blockchain. This fully automates processes, eliminates manual effort and the resulting transparency efficiently accelerates processes.