Robots Wash F-16s

It’s important to wash fighter jets regularly. Grease, oil, hydraulic fluids, and things like insects that the jets meet up with in the sky can all lead to corrosion and eventually to structural weakness if they aren’t removed from the jets.

So a crew of Air Force workers uses brushes, hoses, and buckets of soapy water to get the fighters spic and span a couple of times a year, spending a couple of days making sure the jets are in trim.

This keeps panels from falling off and wheels from cracking. It’s obviously very important work. But those who do the job also say that it is tedious. It takes a lot of scrubbing, and there are lots of nooks and crannies to pry into.

The solution they use in their scrub buckets, Aerowash, is irritating to eyes and skin, so the very hands-on job has to be done in protective gear.

It sounds like a job that is ripe for automation.

Robot washing machines

A new automatic washing system can do the job in an hour. The video above shows how it works.

However, the automatic system can’t do it all alone. For example, all the openings in the jets have to be taped off before the robots get sluiced down.

Still, the system has the capacity to get more wash-downs accomplished — maybe enough to add jobs for two more fighter pilots. (Another good example of robots creating better new jobs even if they take over some tasks.) The automatic jet washer also reduces dangers for the maintenance crew. It can even do its work at night, freeing the maintenance crew for other tasks during the day.

Motion control

One thing you can be sure of — motion control technology is the heart and soul of the new washing system. The makes point out that their robot can do lot of other things, from de-icing to painting. It’s all about the motion control.

In your facility, too, you rely on motion control to make sure your robots and other machinery safely carries out its work.

If you use Rexroth motion control, you’ll want to be sure that your drives, servos, and controls are all in tip-top condition. We’re the specialists you need to make sure of that. We provide factory repair and reman, as well as emergency replacement units. Call now for immediate assistance.

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