Northrop Grumman recognized with manufacturing leadership awards

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An F-35 technician measures the gaps between the frames and the ducts on the forward left inlet duct for the F-35 center fuselage. A core structure of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft, the center fuselage is produced on Northrop Grumman’s integrated assembly line at its Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence.

PALMDALE, Calif.–Northrop Grumman has been recognized by the National Association of Manufacturers with Manufacturing Leadership Awards for three of its aircraft manufacturing capabilities.

The cutting-edge capabilities harness metadata, analytics, and virtual and augmented reality in multiple Northrop Grumman manufacturing programs.

“We have a rich history of manufacturing the most advanced products in the world,” said Kevin Mitchell, sector vice president, global operations, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Today, we use a variety of manufacturing techniques to develop the capabilities to support our customer’s toughest missions. We are honored to be recognized for our leadership in manufacturing.”

The company was recognized for the following technologies:

* The assembly metadata integration project extracts quality data from automated systems on Northrop Grumman’s F-35 Integrated Assembly Line. It uses advanced analytics to mine data and automate an otherwise tedious manual effort for identifying discrepancies, generating reports, evaluating and documenting the quality data, and defining and directing corrective action. 

* The analytics-enabled complex assemblies (ACA) capability leverages analytics to assemble complex airplane parts of diverse material types. It enables Northrop Grumman to machine complex parts on divergent machines and then drill precision hole-bores. This project reduces complexity, cost, facility requirements and risk while improving throughput and design change sensitivity. Northrop Grumman uses this capability on both its manned and autonomous aircraft systems, including the High Altitude Long Endurance family of systems that comprise programs like the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton and U.S. Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk.

* Northrop Grumman leverages augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D analytics to improve airframe manufacturing processes. This enables the company to capture and analyze data to gain meaningful insights into manufacturing challenges experienced by human tasks. By combining airframe manufacturing data with artificial intelligence/machine learning, AR and VR, Northrop Grumman captures human variability and work content that reduces rework, disruption and downtime. Similar to the ACA capability, this can be used across the spectrum of Northrop Grumman aircraft programs.

Northrop Grumman will be recognized at the 15th Annual Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala in conjunction with the Manufacturing Leadership Summit June 10-12 in Huntington Beach, Calif.