Factory Automation


The Automated Fastener Inventory System, or “AFIS”, was an AFRL funded project aimed at greatly increasing fastener inventory control accuracy as well as automatically cleaning, promoting, and kitting fasteners based on the as-built condition for the F-35. The output of AFIS was a “sausage-link” style chain of sealed and labeled bags that could be delivered to the production line ready for use.

AFIS features two manned stations, Load and Sort. At the load station, fasteners straight from the supplier are loaded in bulk quantities into the system. Scanning the barcode on the packaging calls the appropriate bin from the storage racks. The fasteners are dumped onto a bucket scale where they are weighed to assist in confirming the package quantity. A 1:1 scale photo of the fastener type is shown to the user for comparison.

The sort station is where the demand from production is filled. At the sort station, the user is automatically presented with a bin of fasteners based on an external BOM input into the system. The user grabs the quantity displayed on the screen and places them onto a bucket scale. The weight must be within a specified tolerance to release the sorted fasteners into sorting trays beneath the scale.

The sort station fills compartmentalized trays with precise production quantities of fasteners. These trays move via conveyor belt to either a cleaning machine, promoting machine, or the bagging station based on BOM needs. The trays are flipped upside down and each compartment is released one at a time into the bagging system. The bags are labeled with any required data from the BOM, such as part number, quantity, production destination, aircraft serial number, work order, etc. This data is also printed as a 2D barcode to track fasteners throughout the assembly line.



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