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Automation Consortium Assembled
Jul 2005
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich., July 7, 2005--Kuka Robotics Corp., a maker of industrial robots, announced it has joined forces with five other automation companies to develop new flexible manufacturing processes for the aerospace industry. The consortium will address the industry's need to reduce time-to-production cycles and capital expenditures by developing a production model that will include new generations of flexible robots, sensors and intelligent fixturing.

Other consortium members are Composite Systems of Arnold, Calif., which will be responsible for overall program management and systems integration; Programming Plus of New Berlin, Wisc., a CAD/CAM integration company; sensor integration company New River Kinematics of Williamsburg, Va.; laser registration systems developer Faro Technologies, of Lake Mary, Fla.; EOA Systems, a Carrollton, Texas, maker of automated robotic drilling tools; and Weber Screwdrivers, a Yorktown Heights, N.Y., manufacturer of automated screw feeding and fastening systems. The consortium's initial focus will be on airframes and aerospace structures for commercial aircraft.

"We believe robotic and sensor technology is at a crossover point, and can now supplement traditional hard-tooled manufacturing in a wide range of high-tolerance aerospace applications," said Mike Beaupre, director of new markets for Kuka Robotics. "Our customers are demanding lower capital costs, reduced time-to-market and more flexibility in operations, and this consortium has a clear vision on how to implement flexible automation to deliver these benefits."

He said the companies are currently working with aerospace manufacturers to identify key programs that would benefit from their new data-driven approach to robotic manufacturing in aerospace. Emphasis is on drilling and riveting operations, as these have historically been both labor- and tooling-intensive operations, he said.

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