Wiring Harness News Sep-Oct 2022 - Page 49

The customer ’ s current system uses a standard 19 ” rack construction . The large footprint of the rack means it needs to be positioned away from the plane under test . This therefore requires a huge amount of interface cables to connect to the aircraft . So far , so standard . The system and its physical set-up are extremely common and in line with what is typically found at aircraft FALs around the world . But at a time when Industry 4.0 looks to digitize as much as possible to simplify manufacturing , ‘ standard ’ is beginning to feel outdated .
Looking at all these points holistically , the two overriding requirements were the actual speed of the test and the ability to identify the types of faults as quickly as possible . From this , it became apparent that a version of a real-time scanning system – as commonly used in automotive – was the best solution . RTS enables operators to see in real time where the failure is and to fix it immediately , rather than carrying out a full test before going through the results and fixing the faults later .
On a standard eTester system , the switching modules are normally in the cabinet , with a huge amount of interface cables – typically up to 170km of wire for a full aircraft – running across the shop floor and into multiple locations around the aircraft . The maintenance and physical usage of interface cables is a massive burden on time and money . Not only is the maintenance extensive and expensive , but the hook-up is time-consuming and messy . The RTS system has eliminated much of this burden by miniaturizing the switching modules and positioning them inside the aircraft , so typically there are now only 8 umbilical cables for a full aircraft test system .
Not only is RTS fast , but it ’ s safe . Addressing the need for speed meant looking at how the operators could carry out testing during the build process rather than waiting until the end . High voltage testing is perceived as inherently dangerous , which is why testing can ’ t typically be carried out alongside manufacturing with equipping teams inside the aircraft . However , discussions with the customer determined that HV testing was carried out at several previous stages so were unnecessary at FAL . RTS operates at low voltage and low current , which enables operators to work
around the system whilst it ’ s running tests . It ’ s taking some getting used to , but Baker believes it has the potential to be a huge benefit for the aerospace industry : “ When we demonstrated it , people ask if it ’ s running , and I love that . They ’ re so used to hooking up , hitting run , hearing the slow relays clicking , waiting for it to finish and see the results . But RTS is just going all the time . The behavioural change of just hitting go at the start , and then plugging it all in and watching the green lights come on as you build ; that ’ s a big gain for the industry .”
RTS is now in use by a major aerospace OEM on their final assembly line in France . Another RTS project is in development with a different customer for testing aircraft power panels . The system is best suited to high pin count and high connector
count assemblies , formboard harness tests , and for carrying out in-vehicle installed harness tests .
In summary , automotive technologies can drive innovation in aerospace , with adaptation made possible by knowledge of aerospace systems . RTS is the result of a collaborative approach to engineering , drawing from expertise in both sectors .
About MK Systems
MK Test Systems was established 30 years ago in 1992 and are a worldleading manufacturer of automatic electrical testing systems . The systems are widely used within the aerospace , rail , defence , subsea , power & control industries worldwide to ensure high performance electrical systems are correctly wired and undamaged . With the main headquarters in Wellington , Somerset , the company has satellite
offices in the US and Hong Kong , as well as a network of partners and distributors offering sales , service , and support around the world . Please contact Sally Antilles , Marketing Manager (+ 44 ( 0 ) 1823 661100 , sally @ mktest . com ) for all enquiries .
References :
Schoenberger , R . ( 2014 ). From cars to planes . Aerospace Manufacturing and Design , [ online ]. Available at https :// www . aerospacemanufacturinganddesign . com / article / amd1114- aerospace-assembly-automation / [ accessed 15 April 2021 ].
Ease ( 2016 ). From Automotive to Aerospace : Key Cross-Industry Learnings on Quality Management [ online ]. Available at https :// www . ease . io / automotive-to-aerospace-quality-management-cross-industry-learnings / [ accessed 12 April 2021 ].