Bell Helicopter

Using NC optimization software to deliver on the cost reduction initiative

When Bell Helicopter Drive Systems Center maxed out their machining capacity, manufacturing engineers decided to investigate whether Third Wave Systems’ NC program optimization software could help them deliver on mounting V-22 delivery pressures. The V-22 carrier component was selected as a representative test part due to its high percentage of material removal (nearly 30 percent) and challenging workpiece material, titanium forging.

CHALLENGE

Bell had a significant increase in demand for the V-22 helicopters. This demand required an increase in gearbox production, but the facility had no room for expansion or additional machine tools. As a result, they needed to increase plant capacity via efficiency improvements. These efficiency improvements were needed to improve the productivity of the existing equipment to avoid capital expenditure. 

APPROACH

Bell and TWS began deploying Production Module at Bell’s Drive Systems Center to reduce the machining time in V-22 gearbox components. First, the Bell staff team members were trained by the TWS engineers to analyze and optimize the transmission component. Following the successful implementation of the transmission component, TWS trained all of Bell’s 24 NC programmers for the broader rollout. Once the team was trained, the NC programmers optimized over 250 V-22 components as a part of the V-22 Cost Reduction Initiative.

Representative Image

IMPACT

  • 37% cycle time reduction on the transmission component
  • Tool life and wear resistance improved
  • Ease-of-use of the software enabled fast onboarding of the Bell Team
  • Highest return on investment of any V-22 cost reduction initiative – an average of 25% cycle time reduction was achieved for the program

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