Design for Verification
: A Metrology Based Design Framework to Aid Right First Time Assembly for Large Volume Aerospace Structures

  • Andrew Francis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Large volume processes within the aerospace industry, such as final wing build or telecommunications spacecraft integration, are commonly at the mercy of challenging assembly tolerances that require modern metrology instruments to be successfully realised. Holistic capability models for widely used instruments such as the laser tracker and photogrammetry systems are not currently utilised within the early stage design phases to aid tolerance design. The goal of the work presented within this thesis was to create, test and prove a set of design guidelines for the aerospace industry titled ‘Design for Verification’ that consider estimated measurement uncertainty within the early design stages when there is a lack of historical data to adequately inform simulation based design. The guidelines were created to inform design engineers within low rate, high value manufacturing industries, where process capability data are unattainable, to set realistic and achievable tolerances whereby ensuring product conformance and measurability. This was achieved by introducing an additional parameter to the widely established Design for X toolbox, Design for Verification. The focus of Design for Verification is primarily upon the use of metrology and how it impacts large volume assemblies in modern aerospace manufacturing. The Design for Verification guidelines were created with the key objectives of promoting assembly process optimisation, product conformance and reduced cost. The DfV guidelines were applied to an existing product, detailing existing processes in order to baseline a process for comparing the guidelines against. The DfV guidelines were then applied to the same product to demonstrate how they should be used within the early design phase and the results of before and after implementation of the guidelines were compared. A physical demonstrator was designed around the existing Eurostar 3000 telecommunications satellite platform, from Airbus Defence and Space, to test the proposals and design changes derived through following the Design for Verification guidelines. Application of the Design for Verification guidelines resulted in: reduced measurement uncertainty, optimised assembly sequencing, improved tooling design, informed tolerance synthesis and analysis and advanced metrology processes. This has resulted in direct cost benefits for the Airbus Defence and Space telecommunications platform with an estimated saving of 20% for the next generation NEOSAT spacecraft.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGlen Mullineux (Supervisor), Patrick Keogh (Supervisor), Paul Maropoulos (Supervisor) & Chris Bowen (Supervisor)

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