Multi-million-pound aircraft panel contract

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Rockford has been awarded a multi-million-pound contract to deliver aircraft electronic panels to a world-leading defence aircraft manufacturer.

In a move that simplifies a fragmented supply chain, Rockford will now deliver complete electronic systems to the aircraft manufacturer, rather than the customer building it themselves and relying on many businesses to deliver individual parts.

Rockford will source various components such as switches, metallic structures, sensors, wiring and interconnect and integrate these into a final tested panel assembly. Rockford will then ship this complete unit to the customer, who will install it into the air platform.

The work involved in winning the contract started many months ago with supplier development activities to validate the supply chain. This ensured all relevant conditions were flowed down, capacity was available and competitive pricing for the life of the programme had been achieved.

The next stage was to validate the build by developing and building the first off prototype panel. The first off panel was built utilising highly skilled operators, supported by production engineering technicians.

As part of this process, Rockford developed an idea of what the future manufacturing cell would look like. All details were covered, including set-up, flow, capacity, number of stations, floor space, line balancing of standard operations, build instructions, build jigs, line side stocking, automated equipment such as laser wire marking, cut and strip machines, electrical test cables and equipment, quality care points, handling equipment, KPIs (key performance indicators), final inspection and packing. These ideas were collated and developed into a 3D working model of the manufacturing cell, which has become a visual tool to validate both the build and production rate, and also provides the companies involved with a 3D video for engagement and feedback.

Rockford Sales & Marketing Director Chris Parsonage explained that their approach to system solutions helps defence customers deliver complex platforms by integrating technology. Meanwhile, this mitigates risk for customers by offering a one-stop-shop for all electrical requirements, simplifying complex, and often fragmented, supply chains.

Chris says, “We’re really excited to be working on this new project. Rockford is traditionally known for its cables and harnessing products, so this complex electrical panel allows Rockford to showcase its skills in electrical, electronic and mechanical systems and also further highlight our design and integration capabilities. The Rockford team is very proud to be working with a world leading defence aircraft manufacturer on a project of this magnitude”.

Rockford continues to grow its business by acquiring new customers and developing projects with existing customers. These strategies combined with the launch of the new system solutions capability for defence, commercial air and industrial markets have laid the foundations for Rockford to achieve its 2022 growth targets.

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