The space ‘factory of the future’: quick turn-around for customized, cost-effective satellites

The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is already at work at Thales Alenia Space, where the digital integration of the most advanced manufacturing technologies provide clients today with quick turn-around for customized satellites and at competitive cost.

Thales Alenia Space customers are among the first to benefit from the company’s digital transformation of production methods which is creating a completely new way of manufacturing.
We are committed to being the most agile, adaptive and responsive to satellite customer needs. By integrating the most promising manufacturing technologies, we aim to be the industry benchmark in the fast-moving market for customized, cost-competitive satellites with quick turn-around to market.
Jean-Philippe Jahier, Director of Innovation and New Technologies.
Thales investments in the digital manufacturing transformation revolution aim to maintain its leadership; it is today one of the world leaders in the number of 3D-printed parts in orbit.
‘Industry 4.0’—Harnessing the Manufacturing Potential of the Digital Revolution
The complexity of each technology, as well as the number involved, demonstrates why that is no easy accomplishment-- yet also why the potential is worth the effort:
  • Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Based on a digital model, complex single-piece parts can be made through superimposed layers of melted plastic or metal filaments. This eliminates the previous need to fasten components together.
  • Cobotics- robots which can learn and interact with human manufacturing technicians and provide new levels of agility and production precision.
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality that create a new world of production capabilities.
  • Connected Objects, linking smart terminals to a new generation of programmable tools for unprecedented manufacturing precision.
  • Advanced Software Technologies. These allow for more productive mining of data and deep learning capabilities, yielding vast improvements in manufacturing productivity.

Industry 4.0 should be considered as a global eco-system. The challenge is to seamlessly blend fast-moving technologies to pursue a single purpose—efficient, rapid, customized manufacturing and with faultless quality at all times.
Jean-Philippe Jahier
The company’s engineering expertise and management are being applied to the twin challenges of mastering each fast-moving technology and then digitally integrating each one.  The compelling ‘single purpose’, as Jean-Philippe Jahier puts it: to achieve manufacturing that is more efficient, more cost-effective, more environmentally-friendly while at the same time, capable of quickly responding to changing customer requirements. 

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