By Tony Grammauro
VP/ General Manager, Wheelabrator Impact Finishers UK
Thus, parts jet-set around the world – designed at one location, manufactured at another, travelling on to be treated, and finally installed.
What you may not know is that a huge number of aerospace parts, on their journey around the globe, will at some point make a pit stop here at Wheelabrator Impact Finishers in Slough near London.
Parts of all shapes and sizes, from 1cm² to 15m long, come to us for bespoke shot peening treatment.
From shot peen forming through to fatigue enhancement, controlled shot peening is a safety-critical process, giving light parts strength and wing sections curvature. The level of precision required for this is incredible.
Our colleagues in Charleville build equipment for aerospace and other high-end shot peening applications, all highly automated and operated by specially trained engineers, to ensure maximum process control and certifiable quality at the customer site. But sometimes even having this equipment to hand is not enough and customers come to us for the most stringent peening processes.
Many OEMs have suppliers in Asia, for example, but it can be difficult to get the right quality for safety-critical parts. For us, that means we receive parts from Taiwan, China, Malaysia, the USA and Europe for all major OEMs – the work travels because of the extremely high demands on quality, precision, and process reliability, and the very limited numbers of suppliers, like us, with the right approvals and accreditations.
A part from an American aircraft manufacturer, for example, could be made in India, flown to us in the UK for shot peening, then across the Irish Sea to Belfast for treatment. It then goes on to Sweden to be put together as a sub assembly, to finally travel to Charleston, South Carolina in the US, to the final assembly line. Even before its first take-off, an average passenger jet – as the sum of its parts – has circumnavigated the globe several times over.
For me personally, it’s exciting to be at the location where all these aerospace supply chains run together. We see the latest materials, get involved early on in the development process of new aircraft and partner with engineers all over the world.
In a way, we’re bringing a bit of jet-set flair to Slough.