As one of the pillar industries that support national security and national economic development, and the typical representative of the highest development level of China's manufacturing industry, Chinese aerospace manufacturers need to develop smart manufacturing technologies in the new era, which is of great importance. Aerospace enterprises have a good industrial technology foundation and are at the forefront of China's manufacturing development. As a key area of "Made in China 2025," the development of aerospace smart manufacturing plays an important leading role in building advanced manufacturing systems. In the context of the increasing number of model products, the increasingly urgent demand for new products and new technologies, the higher requirements for quality, service, and cost control, and the intensified competition within and outside the industry, Chinese aerospace manufacturers need to seize the current direction of overall reform and development of the manufacturing industry, and promote a new round of industrial revolution in China's aerospace industry through smart manufacturing.
As a new manufacturing model and technology, smart manufacturing can provide new solutions to manufacturing high-quality and complex parts and is more suitable for the production of single-piece and small-volume products. As a so-called new manufacturing model, smart manufacturing optimizes all business and operational processes of an enterprise through Internet-based connection and knowledge-driven development, with a view to achieving sustained growth in productivity, continuous use of energy, and high economic benefits. As a so-called new technology, smart manufacturing achieves the unmanned manufacturing process by using sensor technology and intelligent technology, which can change the situation where spacecraft cannot be maintained. The China Aerospace Smart-Manufacturing Technology (CAST) supports the development of manned space flight, BeiDou navigation, high-resolution remote sensing and other aerospace products by adopting digital, networked, and intelligent methods and integrating cellularization, customized separation, digitization, and automation. This is a typical practice of the "Made in China 2025" in the aerospace field. The successful practice of CAST has laid a solid foundation for the transformation and development of spacecraft manufacturing.
Aerospace Industry Cloud Manufacturing
Cloud manufacturing, which has emerged in recent years, is an efficient and networked smart manufacturing model based on knowledge and services. In the CAST system, the aerospace industry cloud manufacturing uses cloud computing and cloud manufacturing technologies to make various types of manufacturing resources and manufacturing capabilities virtualized and service-oriented, and put them under unified and centralized intelligent management and operation, through the extension and transformation of existing networked manufacturing and service technologies, in order to build a cross-cutting dynamic technology network, dynamic manufacturing network, and dynamic marketing network, realize intelligent, multi-win, universal and efficient sharing and collaboration, and promote the shift of aerospace manufacturing from a relatively fixed industrial chain to a relatively dynamic industrial network, thereby providing user-oriented, cost-effective, high-quality, and efficient products and services.
The CAST platform helps strengthen cooperation with external vendors and scientific research institutes, promote the conversion and integration of military and civilian technologies, introduce private capital and social capital, activate assets, and continuously incubate and cultivate manufacturing resource cloud, technology cloud, and capital cloud, thereby promoting the development of aerospace, satisfying the needs of military product, civilian product and international markets, and achieving the in-depth civil-military integration and development in the aerospace industry.
Automation Based on Data Analysis
Data is the soul of smart manufacturing. The analysis of massive data collected from equipment, people, machines, processes, and ecological chains and the transformation of the data into effective services for customers are an important manifestation of the intelligentization of manufacturing systems. The CAST system, through the integration of automation and digitalization, enables open and closed loops of the full chain of design, technique, processing, inspection and test in the production process, with data as the core. After nearly 50 years of data accumulation in the development of China's spacecraft, the recent five years has seen the preliminary analysis and mining of product features, cell data, process data, technique data, and equipment data. Additionally, the historical accumulation of data and the analysis of user needs allow the quantitative output of processes, production layouts, and operation plans, as well as the automation of data-driven management processes, production equipment, data collection, and decision-making analysis, promoting the automated reform of production methods.
Smart Manufacturing Services
The CAST manufacturing platform is mainly embodied in intelligent technologies and service-oriented products. Intelligentization is mainly applied to equipment, cells, factories, and supply. Flexible manufacturing cells and software systems (intelligent information management platforms, logistics and IoT systems, design cells, and automated collection) are used to open software and hardware data links, and technical means such as big-data analysis are used to achieve data collection, control, execution and analysis at all hierarchies and levels, in order to ensure closed-loop control and efficient operation of the manufacturing process. Service-oriented products mainly include market-oriented products, manufacturing, smart manufacturing and other related experience services and technical skills training.
CAST manufacturing has achieved remarkable results in cellular manufacturing. For example, through cellular manufacturing, the production time per piece of substrate is reduced by 15%, and the average annual output is increased by 6 times; the production time per piece of structural plate is shortened by 45%, and the average annual output is increased by more than 3 times.
Based on the cellular manufacturing model, the combination of cellularization and digitization can be achieved through the integration of automation equipment. At present, a number of production lines for structural plates, precision machining, electrical equipment and pipelines have been built. Each production line is an information link with a three-dimensional design model as its core, which realizes unified data sources and information closed loops in the product development process. On this basis, an intelligent control and decision-making platform has been built, which has the following functions: just-in-time logistics distribution through planned distribution and control based on the product realization processes, with the goal of aligning the flow of products (commodities); identification and resolution of problems in first time and at first site; reasonable and effective allocation of equipment and human resources; efficient, complete and real-time generation and interpretation of data packets; and accurate and rapid cost accounting, so as to achieve continuous flow of products on the product line, and drive step-by-step supplement of supporting components and resources.
Transformation and Development Based on Manufacturing Model
The manufacturing model-based transformation of CAST includes technology-driven transformation and model-driven transformation. The technology-driven transformation is reflected in the transition from subtractive manufacturing to additive manufacturing, from information-based interconnection to interconnection of things, and from fixed machines to machine-to-machine interaction. The model-driven transformation is mainly reflected in the transition from a push production model to a pull production model, from a single closed model to an open service model, and from a digital manufacturing model to a smart manufacturing model.
With the help of the CAST manufacturing platform, we have actively promoted the transformation of the spacecraft manufacturing model. For example, to meet the demand for lightweight and functional spacecraft, we have explored the 3D printing technology and built a 3D printing laboratory. In terms of the construction of CNC machining workshops, we have established time-space logical links through the construction of workshop automation logistics and IoT systems, thereby monitoring the actual status of material transfer, processing, and environment in workshops. In terms of the construction of production cells, we have separated development and production, and built mobile manufacturing cells based on self-developed professional robots and smart platform vehicles. In terms of the organization of production processes, we have respected the law of the development of the industry chain, accelerate the modular division of labor among the aerospace system's internal units, and promote their development to an advanced stage.