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07 December 2005
07. December 2005 Commercial Aircraft

Moving assembly line speeds up single-aisle production


Airbus has adopted a new moving line concept for the assembly of its A320 Family in Hamburg. The moving line will cut assembly time by 40 per cent and help ramp-up production to 30 aircraft per month.

A new moving assembly line has been built in Hamburg to speed up the production of Airbus' A320 Family aircraft.

The Airbus moving line - the first to be implemented in Germany - will cut component lead times by 40 percent from the current nine to five working days, while saving money and ensuring a steady increase of production rates for the single-aisle Family and a constant quality transparency.

The moving line - in its purpose-built hangar - will help Airbus ramp up production for its best-selling A320 Family up to 30 aircraft per month by next year. The fuselage sections of the Airbus models A318, A319 and A321 will now be equipped using the flow principle.

With this new process in place, components remain on their jigs and move at a speed of one metre per hour from the first to the last of nine workstations in all. In contrast to assembly work in fixed docks, the fuselages will no longer have to be moved onto the next individual workstation by crane. This means that there is no need to interrupt the work process as was the case up to now.

The first moving line was set up at the Broughton A320 Family plant in North Wales in 2002. Wings being built there move forward every 13 hours through each of the 11 assembly stations. The process has helped save up to 250 hours of "waiting" per wing set while helping improve quality and efficiency.

Airbus is planning to use the moving assembly line for other aircraft families such as the A330 and A340 from next year. Plans are also under way to study the feasibility of similarly having a moving line for interior equipment fitting on the A380 from 2008.

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