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AE Aerospace secures new contract & starts 5G trials
AE Aerospace has secured a £3.6m three-year contract with a major aerospace company in the Midlands to supply complex machined components for the A220 Airbus programme.
The contract will enable AE Aerospace to reach the sales levels seen in 2019 and will ensure that it can maintain employment for skilled staff, whilst providing additional supply chain work in the West Midlands.
The three-year contract reflects AE Aerospace’s continuous investment in its facilities, manufacturing technologies and its team. The firm’s investment in improved machining has resulted in a price reduction for the customer. In securing this agreement, AE Aerospace has demonstrated the ability to meet the competitive demands of cost, quality and performance expected. It also expects its order book to continue to grow.
Peter Bruch, managing director at AE Aerospace, said: “With the well-documented reduction in civil aerospace work and employment in 2020 due to Covid-19, this new order is a welcome boost to the West Midlands and maintains work in the UK.”
AE Aerospace will also be the first UK SME to deploy a 5G private network and will work together with West Midlands 5G (WM5G), Worcestershire 5G Testbed (W5G) and its technology partner BT, on three new 5G use cases set to transform manufacturing productivity.
With its ambitious growth strategy, it believes that all three 5G-enabled trials delivered via this project will not only improve productivity but provide existing clients with a better quality of service, as well as creating new business models and new revenue opportunities.
In trialling 5G, powered by BT’s EE mobile network, AE aerospace hopes to attain significant benefits, including the ability to maximise machine time, provide more accurate assurance that parts have been machined to specification with increased speed and efficiency, as well as being able to eliminate the need to re-work or replace damaged components impaired in transit.
5G enables productivity improvements by connecting sensors on machines securely and in real-time to data platforms and applications to optimise processes and equipment. The first 5G use case, known as ‘machine time servitization’, will see high-quality wireless 5G and a range of sensors installed across the factory floor to enable wireless connectivity between machines, allowing high volume data capture. The ability to understand production flows and machine time utilisation is what will enable AE Aerospace to offer machine time to its clients.
A ‘mobile asset location and calibration tracking’ trial will allow AE Aerospace to provide 100% assurance that its parts have been machined and measured to specification. Production units have many surfaces, holes and screw threads that must be measured manually with gauges. By tagging all the gauges, their location can be tracked and identified in real time over 5G, AE Aerospace will increase its speed and accuracy of measurement as a result.
Finally, AE Aerospace and WM5G will trial and experiment with 5G to improve ‘product quality assurance’ by eliminating the need to re-work or replace damaged components. By utilising a private 5G network, real-time ultra-high definition image comparison can take place to ensure product quality assurance prior to AE Aerospace shipping out products to customers.
The key learnings and best practice from these trials will be shared with the region’s manufacturing industry to help accelerate the adoption of 5G technology within the sector. Any efficiencies and productivity gains that AE Aerospace and WM5G prove from these trials could also be replicated across the sector to support the region’s economic growth.
Peter Bruch, added: “We are delighted to have been chosen by WM5G, W5G & BT to develop the 5G technology which will fast forward our Glass Factory, Servitized programme; by improving our productivity and flexibility, reducing costs and lead time for our customers. Post-Covid and Brexit, we believe that this support will be a driving force, enabling the UK manufacturing sector to compete on the world stage.”
Robert Franks, managing director at WM5G, said: “West Midlands 5G is committed to supporting the recovery and growth of the manufacturing sector by transforming productivity. The trials AE Aerospace are undertaking with us will clearly illustrate the value of 5G for manufacturers, not only across the West Midlands, but the whole UK. We are excited to get underway and to deliver some cutting-edge results with the support of Worcestershire 5G and BT as our technology partners.”