BAE Systems - Samlesbury
Case Study BAE Systems - Samlesbury

Entrusting Laser Trackers With Critical Measurements For Nearly Two Decades

BAE Systems is a global company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land and at sea. As one of the largest defence companies in the world and the largest such contractor in Europe, the company plays an important role in global military aircraft production. The company’s Typhoon, Tornado and Harrier fighter-bombers are all frontline aircraft of the Royal Air Force. BAE Systems is also a major partner in the F-35 Lightning II program and produces the Hawk Advanced Trainer. Investing about 10 percent of its revenues into research and development, BAE Systems has always been at the forefront of what is technologically possible in the world of industrial metrology. The company’s cooperation with Leica Geosystems dates back to 1991, when the world’s first commercially available laser tracker was launched.

When Leica Geosystems laser trackers first hit the market nearly 20 years ago, they started quite a revolution in the way tooling was inspected and the way that jigs were built. Instead of relying on master gauges and references, and the eagle eye of a skilled operator sighting optics and theodolites, it was now possible to conduct simple, operator-independent measurement tasks by merely placing the reflector on the point being inspected. Because a laser tracker operates in 3D XYZ Coordinates – rather than in 1D and 2D space, as is the case with theodolites – there is fairly little room for operator error.

In the early 1990s, as the manufacturing techniques started calling for ever-closer tolerances with part-to-part assembly and the importance of interchangeability of spare parts in aircraft service, BAE Systems started looking for a way to instil greater repeatability and higher accuracy for its measurement tasks, possibly reducing the degree to which the quality of its metrological measurements depended on the skill of the operator. . . . .

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