Our collaboration with Airbus

Hi. My name is Sergey Lupuleac. I’m representative of Russia in ECMI. I was in charge of many industry related projects. Here I want to tell about my favorite called ASRP (Assembly Simulation of Riveting Process).

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What is it about?

ASRP is a software complex. But it is very unusual one. It is said to be the only computer code fully developed by the University that is officially deployed in Airbus.

For ten years Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University and Airbus collaborate in simulation of the airframe assembly process and optimization of the assembly technology.

The speeding-up of airframe assembly process is one of the most urgent important problems for Airbus. Very long order list for most popular models and limited number of assembly lines motivate the company to intensify the manufacturing process. Perspective way of solving this problem is global simulation of assembly process using efficient numerical algorithms.

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The main challenge for simulation the assembly process is necessity to solve the contact problem for determination of deformed stress state of the assembly loaded by the forces from fastening elements. The standard commercial FEM codes are of no use here because of problem complexity and large number of unknowns.

The special mathematical model combines dimension reduction with use of state-of-the-art optimization algorithms was developed and realized in computer code [see p://www.mathematicsinindustry.com/content/4/1/8].

But the project is not restricted with just development and coding of new mathematical algorithms…


Since 2007 every summer a student from our Applied Mathematics Department has an internship at Airbus in Toulouse. Actually the industrial internship is not obligatory for Russian students. But an opportunity to spend summer in the south of France teaching the birds to fly can’t be ignored. So we choose the very best students for internship. This strategy works perfectly. On one hand, the possibility to go to Airbus is very good motivation for students. On the other hand we’ve got outstanding reputation in Airbus (once I was asked “Are all Russians such clever or just students from your University?”). It is impossible to make photos at Airbus so we asked to send some photos from weekends.

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Do you know what is TRL? This abbreviation stands for Technology Readiness Level and it comes from NASA. TRL1 corresponds to good idea and TRL9 corresponds to fully developed and tested commercial product. ASRP now has TRL6 that means that it was fully tested and recommended for internal use by the company. We were the first in Russia who got it. Airbus does not intend to sell the software so the application for next level is not planned. After obtain of TRL6 we had a party in Toulouse. Our colleagues from Airbus baked very nice French chocolate cake and we presented them the calendars with beautiful architecture of St. Petersburg. We’ve got a feeling that we are one family despite being born in opposite sides of Europe.

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A350 is the newest model from Airbus. It is the most advanced commercial aircraft in the world. It is also our child (of course we are just few among tens of thousands parents). It was born on June 14, 2013 [see http://www.bbc.com/news/business-22901267]. We got the following message from our Airbus friends from the airfield in Toulouse “Yes it flies – with the help of ASRP …” and the photo below. Three years has passed but this message is still dear to us.

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Several times our University was visited by big bosses from Airbus. Actually I still don’t know what is the main reason of this popularity: our very successful project or the world famous attractions of Saint Petersburg? 🙂

Here we are visited by Charles Champion (left in the photo), Executive Vice President Engineering, Sept. 9, 2014.

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The last ECMI Council meeting took place at Bath in October 26th, 2015. Bath is very nice medieval British town but for us the main advantage of Bath is its location very close to Airbus Filton factory. So I used this opportunity to negotiate and confirm the new project on wing assembly simulation right before start of ECMI Council. Today (Monday, Feb 8th, 2016) I go back to Bath for kick off meeting of new and very challenging British-French-Russian project involving statistical analysis, optimization and validation experiments. Good luck!

Bath photo is below. It is just as beautiful as St. Petersburg, isn’t it?

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And last but not least I want to tell about some of my colleagues. Actually every person involved in the project is outstanding but I’ve chosen just three of them to be mentioned here.

Professor Eugene Victorov all his life worked on industrial related mathematical and mechanical problems. In 1950th he participated in development of launching site for R-7 rocket (yes, it is the rocket that launched first Sputnik One and then Yury Gagarin into space). Fifty years later he participated in development of Airbus A350. Isn’t it impressive? Presently he very actively participates in our project. Actually we consider him as the father of ASRP and the teacher of us all.

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Julia Shinder is chief expert in our Laboratory. Since 2009 till 2014 she spent a total of 15 months in Toulouse working as a guest researcher side by side with colleagues from Airbus on development of new models and deployment of ASRP into company’s technological chain. Her experience is absolutely unique because as a mathematician she knows all algorithms realized in the code and all capabilities of software and at the same time she is distinguished expert in aircraft design, assembly technology and finite element modelling. So one person combines two kinds of knowledge: “What is needed?” and “How it can be done?”

JK


Rita Petukhova in 2007 was our first student on internship in Airbus. She works in the project since her third year as bachelor student. Her research of optimization methods as applied to solve of contact problems has lifted the project to new level. She devoted both her BCs and Mc theses to the topic and further evolved it in PhD dissertation. Now she is the leading expert in the field of optimization in our Lab. And her algorithms help to optimize the assembly of more and more aircrafts…

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