Imagine, you are in a massive airplane hangar and want to build a commercial airplane. You will need a lot of different parts, labor hours as well as tools, screws, and tacks. And a manual that you can follow step by step. And nonetheless, it is a complicated process that must be strictly adhered in order to comply with safety regulations.
Airbus is the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer who has to ensure that assembly and trial operation run smoothly to meet their high safety and sustainability standards. At the same time, they have to take care of continuous optimization at various levels. On the one hand, to save costs and expand production capacities, but also to support employees, make their work easier and safe resources in terms of sustainability.
They have an interest in making better use of production capacity, which means building more in the same amount of time. That is why they approached us with the question of whether and how it would be possible to reduce the assembly time of an aircraft construction by 20%. Call it a moonshot.
As part of a larger team, we digitized the entire production process and virtualized it with a digital twin. We innovated what had been a physical, analog, and rigid process. We looked at the various work steps and processes as well as the material and its supply-chain, digitized and then modularized them everything. For example, each part was given an RFID tag so that it can be viewed online where it is and how many of its kind are still available. Longer waiting times because a part was being searched for, was out of stock and had to be ordered, or an employee became ill, can now be prevented. Moreover, processes can run in a different order, allowing an unseen dimension of agility in airplane manufacturing.
The way to a holistically optimized final assembly line regarding logistics, user experience, information and recourse management is the ProWag-System. A system of assembly trolleys enabling a digital, agile, on-demand and situational production process.
The ProWag brings maximum efficiency in terms of material, space, assembly process, transport, and logistics. Considering the entire product and assembly life cycle as well as given cluster sizes and safety conditions, ProWag demonstrably increases the added value. Spare parts can be ordered directly, processes and work steps can be viewed and rescheduled independently thanks to modularization.
This system of trolleys is the result of an intense collaboration between Airbus and Indeed, which spanned from the analysis phase, iterative user centric design processes, and extensive stakeholder workshops to the implementation of hardware. Numerous prototypes and their iterative co-creative development brought together the process-oriented mounting trolley and information systems.
ProWag stands for a needs-based material delivery system. It is the answer to the question posed by Airbus that we can answer together with the entire workforce and with the help of design thinking. By radically innovating the entire process, it was possible to optimize it so massively that not only 20% production time was saved, and an optimized logistics supply chain was achieved. These optimizations also mean that fewer resources are needed, and, at the same time, the process becomes more organized for the employee.
- Time saving of the production process by 20%
- Optimized logistics supply chain
- Less assembly loops and reduced down times
- Maximum user-friendly and organized work
- Efficient and proper use of tools avoids physical and mental strain
- Minimized mental load within the logistic chain and at assembly point
- Shorter downtimes caused by human error
- Minimized material losses
- Saving energy and resources through shorter production times