Aerobotix, an AS9100-certified FANUC robotics integrator and metrology company, marked the installation of its 40th robotic system for the U.S. missile manufacturing industry. Defense contractors are using Aerobotix automated systems to enhance capabilities and efficiencies as they ramp up production of advanced missiles for the U.S. Government.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is seeking $9.6 billion in FY23 to expand regional and homeland defenses against increasingly complex and capable missile threats. The MDA requested $8.9 billion in FY22, but received an additional $1.5 billion from Congress for a total of $10.4 billion. Congress has increased funding to the MDA for two years in a row, arguing that the agency hasn’t requested sufficient funds for it to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.
“Automation is often the smartest strategy when defense contractors really need to increase production,” said Ricky Schwartz, Principal Engineer at Aerobotix. “Contractors are realizing it’s time to ‘tech up.’ That’s why we’ve now installed 40 robotic systems for U.S. missile manufacturing and are already on our way to No. 50.
“Recent demand has focused around the automation of testing, scanning and quality operations. We’re able to transform these manual – and sometimes even subjective – inspections into fully-automated processes that just crank out products. Our robots can perform a perfect inspection every time and record the data so that the customer then has a digital twin of the missile.”
In recent months, Aerobotix has delivered robotic systems to support surge production at several prime defense contractor sites where missiles are manufactured. The robotic systems are supporting interceptor, cruise, air-to-air and hypersonic missile production on multiple levels. Industrial-grade FANUC robots integrated by Aerobotix are proven to operate for 60,000+ hours before a major failure, enabling more than 10 years of 24-hour operation.
This level of durability ensures a strong return on investment, gives contractors confidence that they can answer the call for more product, and removes human workers from dangerous or difficult manufacturing environments, where robots excel. Aerobotix robotic systems are comprised of off-the-shelf commercial components to create flexible, turn-key systems that can be supported by a customer’s internal maintenance and engineering teams.
Aerobotix is working with defense contractors to identify missile manufacturing processes that are best suited to automation. The company has designed, built, installed and programmed robotic systems for processes including structured light scanning, active force compliant sanding, painting of performance coatings, sculpting of outer mold line shape, non-contact coating thickness measurement, and automated application of masking tape.
“A lot of the work that Aerobotix does is commercial in confidence, but our customers include some of the biggest names in defense manufacturing,” added Schwartz. “We’re proud that our robot technology is helping to build the missiles needed to keep America safe from any potential adversaries.”