Pilatus starts work on new Structure Assembly Hall
The exavacation work for the new Structure Assembly Hall started on 3 April 2018. Located in the immediate vicinity of the Pilatus headquarters, the new hall should be ready for use by mid-2019. This new competence centre is a further mark of the commitment to Switzerland as a centre of industrial endeavour and creation.
The new competence centre for structure assembly operations sends a further signal of the desire to reinforce Pilatus’ core competences as a developer and manufacturer of airframes. The work to be performed in the new hall will focus on the PC-24. At some point in the future, we are likely to integrate structure assembly work on trainer aircraft as well.
The new Structure Assembly Hall S boasts a production area of some 118,000 square feet (11,000 square metres) and will be built using regional timber, just like our Assembly Hall 25. At 650 feet (200 metres) in length, Hall S will be approximately 50 percent longer than Hall 25.
Bundling in one location
In the past, structure assembly work for series production was always outsourced. Involving a multitude of different manual tasks, airframe work tends to be very time-consuming and difficult to automate. When designing the new PC-24 business jet, care was taken from the outset to facilitate the efficient use of a riveting machine in the structure assembly production processes. This results in a higher degree of automation and a corresponding reduction in manual labour and associated costs.
Conscious that automation and intelligent logistics processes are absolutely essential in achieving competitive structure assembly operations at the production site in Switzerland, the location in the immediate vicinity of the core Pilatus site was deliberately chosen to keep internal logistics paths as short as possible. The ultimate goal is to establish worldwide competitive production by 2024.
Autonomous production under one roof
The new structure assembly hall will accommodate all processes and departments involved in the autonomous production of aircraft airframes. Hall S therefore also includes space for workstations dedicated to the job of sealing wing tanks, for example. These operations require a separate sealing room designed for handling the special substances used in this process. A corrosion protection system will also be located on site and will be used to apply corrosion protection to critical areas during structure assembly work plus – where necessary – a white topcoat. All this will deliver further optimisation of work procedures and allow definition of clear quality requirements for the interfaces to final assembly at the core site.
Automation ensures efficiency
Work in the new structure assembly hall will be performed with a C-frame riveting machine. In particular, this will enable automation of drilling and riveting tasks for certain components of the PC-24, thereby reducing the manual work involved in PC-24 structure assembly by several hundred hours. From start to finish, we will see substantially enhanced efficiency and greater quality throughout the entire riveting process. It will also minimise the scrap risk for the most expensive components.
Optimising in-house logistics
Many of the materials required for PC-24 structure assembly work will be delivered direct to Hall S and stored there too. All parts made at Pilatus will be transported from the Surface Treatment Centre to the new hall and will therefore no longer require intermediate storage on the main Pilatus site. Similarly, parts produced by external suppliers will be delivered direct to Hall S. Bulk solids are the only materials which will be delivered from an intermediate point, for example the high-bay warehouse in the logistics building at the general headquarters, or direct from the supplier. Some 200 employees currently working at different locations should be able to move into the new hall from summer 2019 onwards.