The challenges of Aerospace/Defense Manufacturing

Precision, Complexity and No Room for Error

Critical components used in aerospace and defense can be very complex and they have some of the tightest specifications imaginable. For example: A .0001-.0002 deviation in the military vision component can cause a weapon carried by a soldier or mounted to a tank to miss a far-off target. The pedals used by pilots to fly commercial aircraft also leave no room for error in their manufacturing. These are the types of components PEP Premco routinely manufactures for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets.

It is difficult to predict what special requirements customers will bring us, but it is almost certain that they will. Here are some of the ways PEP Premco has been able to respond to special requirements.

Minimizing Risk: Military contracts often have penalties if the products underperform or are not delivered on time. PEP Premco was asked to bid on four critical night vision components that are commonly machined from magnesium castings. Based on our expertise with high speed, multi-axis machining of magnesium, we demonstrated that it would be no more expensive to machine parts from solid billets. This also eliminated potential leak testing failures that might occur because of the inherent porosity of castings.

Going Without Prototypes: It’s not ideal, but there are circumstances when there is no time to go through a complete prototyping protocol. A recent order for 152 critical defense components stipulated that five had to be produced immediately. PEP Premco set up an area where the customer could measure and fit these parts to mating components as soon as finish cuts came off the machine. This enabled our customer to meet their own fast-turn obligations without sacrificing quality.

Reducing Lead Time: Surveys conducted by Precision Engineered Products (PEP) make it abundantly clear that lead times are the number one concern. PEP Premco is continually monitoring the latest technology and purchasing manufacturing systems that impact lead times. For example, parts that previously required several setups and multiple machines are now being performed unattended on a multi-axis machine in a fraction of the time.

Scaling it up: You can’t always predict when an aerospace program will launch into full-scale production and the dozens of parts you have been delivering must now be ramped up to thousands. Every program that has large follow on potential is planned with this unpredictable eventuality in mind. Scaling up may involve shifting production to equipment requiring fewer setups, adding shifts or installing a complete manufacturing cell. For example, when PEP Premco received a contract upgrade for 12,000 commercial aircraft clevises, production was shifted into a recently purchased cell consisting of two mills and a lathe. The sudden surge in quantity had no impact on required delivery.

In a fast-paced highly technical manufacturing discipline, it takes a great deal of time to build a working relationship that is characterized by trust and confidence. Once that relationship has been established, projects are awarded with increasing frequency requiring an upward spiral of quality, precision and adopting methods for shorter lead times through technology and engineering.

For more information about how PEP Premco can help with your special aerospace/defense components requirements, visit premco.net or email us at info@premco.net.