In-process measurement will improve the quality, reliability and on-time delivery of aerospace bearings

Written by: Schaeffler (UK) Ltd | Published:

By developing in-process, non-contact measurement systems for aerospace bearings, significant benefits can be achieved in terms of both sample manufacturing for rapid programme development, and in the continuous production of bearings.

Schaeffler subsidiary The Barden Corporation (UK) Ltd is currently involved in a Research & Technology project, MEGCAP (More Electric Generation, Controls & Aircraft Power). This three-year collaborative project is a UK Government-funded, multi-million pound aerospace research programme that officially began on 1st May 2017. The lead partner on the project, Safran Electrical & Power UK, designs and produces electrical systems for aircraft. Barden is one of the supply chain technology partners and is a key supplier of high precision bearings for use on Safran power generators.

As part of MEGCAP, Barden UK has received matched funding of £500,000 to develop new technologies for in-process measurement of bearing defects and quality, as well as developing the capability to perform adaptive machining. The objectives are to improve the lead-time, reliability and performance of aerospace bearings.

Although the Schaeffler production plant for Barden bearings in Plymouth already uses offline, laboratory-based measurement technologies for identifying bearing defects, the aim is to industrialise these measurement technologies by taking them into the harsher realities of the production environment at Plymouth.

The project will focus on the development of non-contact, in-process measurement systems specifically after track-grinding and honing for bearings, which will lead to significant benefits for both sample manufacturing for rapid programme (prototype) development and in continuous production of aerospace bearings. The ability to identify sub-micron defects immediately after track-grinding or honing would ensure that only the best quality rings are passed forward for assembly. This means the product supplied to Safran will be of the best possible quality and will best reflect the design models used to predict in-service performance of bearings – which will enable aerospace customers to develop prototypes more rapidly with higher confidence. For standard production bearings and parts, this will ensure that a more predictable yield and a higher throughput are achieved, reducing lead times and improving on-time delivery.

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