programs like Spatial Analyzer from New River Kinematics into tools for day-to-day operators, according to Ryan. “This is be- coming a common process in airframe manufacturing,” he said.
Evolving Technology How does Ryan, with over 30 years of experience in indus- trial metrology, see the future of airframe assembly? “Today, the benchmark for metrology is the laser tracker,” said Ryan. Workers put targets on either the mating tooling or the parts themselves, enabling part-to-part mating automation. However, if you cannot use targets, or have too many features to check that makes targeting impractical, he rec- ommends the next technology to investigate is Laser Radar (LIDAR). “It is not quite as accurate, but provides much more data,” he said, and given that it is 2–3× more expensive in general compared to laser trackers, the application must require the unique broad area of the LIDAR. Indoor GPS (iGPS) from Nikon Metrology is another key enabling technol-
A lightweight, small, drilling robot guided through metrol- ogy is an approach that Nikon metrology is pursuing as an optimum use of flexible, reconfigurable robots.
ogy, used for locating other sensors or used directly in certain assembly operations. “For the future, I see the sensor—what-