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Will Aircraft Technicians Be Replaced with Robots?

As technology continues to advance over the years and more processes are automated, there is a growing worry that many positions may become obsolete as human employees are replaced by robots. Within aircraft maintenance sectors, it is a desire of many companies to ease the workload of technicians through automation, but this is not an immediate call for concern. Rather, the human component of the technician workforce is something that is not foreseen to be automated anytime soon, nor may it ever. As such, it begs the question of how technician processes can be assisted by automation for increased efficiency and accuracy.

Since the advent of powered flight, humans have served at the forefront of maintenance with their experience and human judgment that can allow defects and issues to be identified and analyzed. Despite this being tried and true, there has never been an opportunity before like there is now to implement advanced technology to assist human technicians while still relying on their expertise.

Automation is by no means a new thing, and automobile manufacturers have been using various iterations of assembly line robotics as far back as the 1960s, when General Motors applied robotics for spot welding. As robotic arms continued to evolve over the following years, more and more of the assembly process became dominated by their use.

As automation has taken over automobile manufacturing, it has also begun to permeate in aerospace manufacturing as well. Despite this growing use, it is important to separate manufacturing and maintenance as the two are completely different elements of the aviation industry as a whole. As aircraft manufacturing requires extreme precision and the need for a sterile work environment due to the use of virgin materials, there is much more benefit to having automation for such processes as compared to maintenance endeavors.

When discussing maintenance, one is referring to the process of disassembling a finished product that has been in use for the means of identifying signs of fatigue, failure, and deficiency. As problems are not always obvious at first glance, it takes a well-trained professional with years of experience to accurately find areas that are at risk of failure due to weaknesses. Despite these clear advantages, human technicians can still benefit from certain robotics that are implemented for the means of saving time, making certain tasks easier, or extending the capabilities of the worker.

An example of a new technology that enhances the abilities of technicians is the automated guided vehicle (AGV). With an AGV in a hangar, technicians can inspect engine assemblies, wings, and fuselages in tight areas that would normally be difficult to move around. As vehicles follow a magnetic tracking line, AGVs can be operated autonomously. Administrative automation is another example, assisting in the collection and analysis of data. As administration has a major effect on technician efficiency, any optimization of administration can be beneficial to the employer.

Similar to automated guided machines, small, unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) are also beginning to find use for aviation applications as a result of their high versatility in operation. With a drone, technicians can reach and inspect very hard to reach areas of an aircraft, allowing for visuals to be achieved for maintenance. Even if an area was normally accessible, a drone can reach a high area of the aircraft within seconds, saving time, equipment, and manpower that would otherwise be needed. While the use of drones for maintenance is not very widespread or adopted as of the present, their use has been growing in various MRO circles due to the benefits they pose.

Alongside such examples, there are many other ways in which emerging technologies can benefit maintenance endeavors. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one example, allowing for things such as immediate synchronization between an aircraft and the mobile devices of technicians to make processes easier. With machine learning, advanced algorithms coupled with IoT devices can allow for high quality information to be analyzed and created for the technical workforce. With countless other types of technology beginning to be adopted for maintenance, such processes are being highly improved. Nevertheless, technicians can rest easy knowing that their positions are not threatened by emerging technologies, rather they are being enhanced with new tools and resources.

If you are in the market for robotic holder components, welding machine robotic parts, thermal protector products, and other related items, look no further than Aviation Sphere. Aviation Sphere is a website owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, and we provide customers access to over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find products that have been sourced from leading global manufacturers that we trust. Take the time to explore our expansive set of offerings as you see fit, and our team is always on standby 24/7x365 to assist customers through the purchasing process however necessary. See how Aviation Sphere can serve as your strategic sourcing partner today when you get in touch with a representative of ours through phone or email!


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