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Automated Repair and Overhaul System for Aero Turbine Engine Components


The maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aero-engine components consists of a chain of different processes, for example inspection, welding, milling and polishing. Today most of these processes are carried out manually. Data acquired during one process is not available for subsequent repair operations.

Although the industry is developing improved machining equipment to automate the individual process steps, they remain separate and unconnected. This does not improve the overall process, unlike promoting data flow and factory automation throughout the entire MRO chain.

Project objectives

One objective is to develop a data management system (DMS) that will constitute the core of automated overhaul systems for aero-engine components. As part of this innovative data management solution, the single repair process modules will be integrated to build an automated repair cell for aero-engine components.

The other objective of AROSATEC is to improve existing repair methods by employing adaptive machining technology. These technologies will make use of the information provided by the DMS and compensate for the part-to-part variation of the complex components to be overhauled.

The data flow between the adaptive repair steps will optimise the single repair technologies, as well as the efficiency and flexibility of the entire chain of repair processes for aero-engine components.

Furthermore, it will be possible to establish ‘virtal’ MRO workshops. The DMS will generate a data set for each individual component and handle the logistics of components and accompanying data sets. As a result, different MRO processes will be carried out at different facilities without loss of information, efficiency or quality. In addition, the efficient life cycle monitoring will be supported.

Description of the work

The work of AROSATEC can be divided into two sections. One part of the development is focused on the improvement of the different process steps. The other part concentrates on the realisation of the data flow between them. In the first period of the project, the focus is on the repair of very small compressor parts, and the welding of turbine components (hot section parts) shall be investigated afterwards.

To improve inspection of parts and avoid expensive calibrated fixture elements, a laser scanning system has been developed, which is able to scan the shiny aero-engine parts without the need of spraying them. The laser is adapted to these special needs and new filter algorithms have been tested and implemented.

To examine the optimal conditions for the laser-welding process, special testing equipment was constructed. All-important laser-welding parameters are changeable to find the most suitable set-up. With these results, a near net shape welding of the aero-engine parts will be realised.

To meet the requirements of the industrial project partner concerning the accuracy of the milling process, adaptive technologies have to be implemented into the process. To compensate for the deviation of the repair parts from their nominal geometry, special adaptation algorithms are being developed and integrated.

A system for the automated tip repair for very small compressor blades has already been implemented. First tests results are promising. By integrating the adaptive technologies into the system, processes carried out manually today can be automated.

The communication between the several repair processes uses a data management system designed according to the special needs of the MRO-industry. For data transfer and data storage, the flexible XML-data format is used. With this, it is possible to connect different systems and to integrate new processes in the future without problems. Transferring the AROSATEC data to existing MRO systems is also possible. For transferring the data to and from the database, all repair technologies are equipped with suitable interfaces.

Expected results

Improving the scanning, welding and milling processes by integrating adaptive technologies should lead to better process results and should pave the way for automating repair processes, which are carried out manually today. The need for special calibrated fixtures should be minimised.

With the continuous data-flow, all data acquired in one process should be available for all the other process steps used during the MRO process chain.