Safran Electrical & Power improves efficiency of cable assembly in Airbus A350’s structures

How to accelerate and make reliable the assembly of tens of kilometers of cables that run through the fuselage of an airliner such as the Airbus A350 XWB? For Safran Electrical & Power, the answer lies in the implementation of Diota’s solution.

Engaged alongside Airbus in the production of its latest jumbo, Safran Electrical & Power is responsible for the production of 75% of the electrical harnesses that equip the fuselage of the A350 XWB. At its plant in Temara, Morocco, more than 400 people work in the manufacture of these complex wiring that supply all the electrical equipment in the cabin. The volumes are significant: since the delivery of the first harness for the A350 in 2012 the equipment manufacturer has already produced more than 100,000, which must then be assembled accurately within the fuselage of the A350.

Assembling electrical harnesses is a complex operation that leaves no room for chance. The length of the cables is calculated as close to the actual distance provided by the engineering, and each harness must take a precise path along the structural elements of the aircraft. The assembly is traditionally done by hand with the help of a technical plan of the device.

From the paper plan to the digital model

The technician must therefore first identify among the different sections of the fuselage, then identify each of the crossing points before putting his harnesses. The process is all the more tedious as it varies from one aircraft to another, depending on the cabin configuration selected by the end customer. It does not tolerate any error, neither in the connection of the harnesses, nor in the routing of the cables.

In this context, Safran wanted to offer its technicians a tool adapted to their needs, capable of improving the efficiency of assembly, but also of allowing each operator to intuitively check the conformity of its assembly. Diota has responded to this dual objective by adapting its Digital-assisted operator solution, articulated around DiotaPlayer, to the operational constraints of harness assembly.

It allows Safran teams to visualize the exact routing of each harness in augmented reality via a tablet. Rather than follow a theoretical route on a plane, the operator can thus constantly compare his editing with the expected expected by the digital model of the aircraft. The tracking system developed by Diota provides the level of reliability needed to accurately determine the path in which a cable must pass and what connections to make. Tracking is effective even in the least well-lit sections.

A solution integrated to a simple tablet

To successfully deploy augmented reality in an environment as constrained as the fuselage of an aircraft, Diota has developed a dedicated device. Equipped with a black and white camera to optimize contrast detection, it is associated with an inertial unit that completes the visual tracking module, allowing to be very precise in large volumes. The set has been integrated in a simple tablet so as not to hinder the movements of the technician and facilitate access to tight spaces. The solution finally shows an accessible interface in order to favor the handling by operators who are not necessarily used to Augmented Reality.

The results obtained on the production stages now point to new outlets for the solution developed by Diota, particularly on the maintenance phases.