de la
del Zulia
Fundada en 1947
por el Dr. Jesús Enrique Lossada
ISSN 0041-8811
E-ISSN 2665-0428
Ciencias del
y Tecnología
Año 13 N° 36
Enero - Abril 2022
Tercera Época
REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL ZULIA. 3ª época. Año 13 N° 36, 2022
Leonid B. Sobolev /// Robots in aerospace industry, 241-256
Robots in aerospace industry
Leonid B. Sobolev *
Robotization is a logical continuation of computerization and automatization of industrial
and service processes on previous stage of world-wide economy’s evolution development.
Before, automatic machines with computer numerical control and automatic lines have
replaced workers with completing many typical production operations by doing it with more
speed and accuracy. In development of automatization, industrial and service robots have
additional sensors (analogues for human senses’ organs), and they can choose the program of
built-in computer, depending on operators’ commands in regime of remote control or sensors’
signals in autonomous regime. Robotization with computerization and automatization is a
necessary part of fourth industrial revolution, in which world-wide economy is. Robots are
already working everywhere: in industrial workshops, on farmlands, in hospitals and in
replacing labor” resource with “capital” resource, because such replacement has economic
value. The goal of this article is analysis the use of robots in world-wide aerospace industry
and robotization impact on the labor market.
KEY WORDS: robotics; industrial robots; service industries; aerospace industry; vehicles.
*Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University), 125993 Volokolamskoe
highway 4, Moscow, Russia. ORCID: E-mail:
Recibido: 22/09/2021 Aceptado: 19/11/2021
REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL ZULIA. 3ª época. Año 13 N° 36, 2022
Leonid B. Sobolev /// Robots in aerospace industry, 241-256
Robots en la industria aeroespacial
La robotización es una continuación lógica de la informatización y automatización de los
procesos industriales y de servicios en la etapa anterior del desarrollo de la evolución de la
economía mundial. Antes, las máquinas automáticas con control numérico por computadora
y líneas automáticas han reemplazado a los trabajadores para completar muchas operaciones
de producción típicas al hacerlo con más velocidad y precisión. En el desarrollo de la
automatización, los robots industriales y de servicios tienen sensores adicionales (alogos
para los órganos de los sentidos humanos), y ellos pueden elegir el programa de computadora
incorporada, dependiendo de los comandos de los operadores en régimen de control remoto
o señales de sensores en régimen autónomo. La robotización con informatización y
automatización es la parte necesaria de la cuarta revolución industrial, en la que se encuentra
la economía mundial. Los robots ya están funcionando en todas partes: en talleres
industriales, en tierras de cultivo, en hospitales y en la sustitución de recursos "laborales" por
recursos "de capital", porque dicha sustitución tiene valor económico. El objetivo de este
artículo es analizar el uso de robots en la industria aeroespacial mundial y el impacto de la
robotización en el mercado laboral.
PALABRAS CLAVE: robótica; robots industriales; industrias de servicio; industria
aeroespacial; vehiculos.
We should distinguish automatization and robotization. Robot, according to
International Federation of Robotics (IFR) must be able to make three types of operations:
Sense, Think and Act, i.e. has a sensitive element (or some sensitive elements), built-in
computer with software and making mechanism, which comes as technical or intellectual
device. Automatization answers only one or two of the mentioned conditions. Robots can
have different sizes (from micro-devices for bio-medical research to giant robotic industrial
systems), different view (from human-like to absolutely not-normal) and different skills
depending on sensors’ type and computers’ software (Yang et al., 2018).
More and more countries (developed or developing) understand the meaning of
robotization for developing their economies and use robots in different industrial spheres
and service industry. Robotics became independent industry, including hundreds of big,
middle and small enterprises. There appeared national robotic associations, which are
coordinated by IFR, made in 1987 as non-commercial organization. IFT collects statistical
REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL ZULIA. 3ª época. Año 13 N° 36, 2022
Leonid B. Sobolev /// Robots in aerospace industry, 241-256
data about industrial markets and service robots in the world, accompanies completing
international conferences and robotic symposiums.
IFR divides robots into industrial and service ones in connection with separating
economy in two sectors: industry and service. Therefore, service robots are also divided in
two segments. The first segment includes professional robots, taking part in labor activity
(medicine, trade, logistics, guard, etc.) The second segment is everyday robots, which help
completing home works and leisure (vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, game robots, "smart
home", etc.) One of the directions of professional service robots is projecting and production
of military robots (scouts, sappers, orderlies), which are made for completing defined by
armed forces functions.
For comparative analysis of robotic industry condition in countries and separate
companies there are usually four quantitative indicators: revenue, number of established
robots (in the country, industry or separate Company), robotic density (number of robots
for 10 000 workers) and relative growth of this or that indicator during a defined time section.
Modern robotics can surely be determined as one of the high-tech spheres of industry. It is
clear that with appearing new sensor elements, development of computer technics,
appearing new materials and technologies, one robots get “old and they are being replaced
by new generation of robots (Küpper et al., 2019).
Until the end of XX century robots were rather expensive and labor in many
developing countries was cheap. That is why robots had restricted usage even in developed
countries, because it was possible to transfer harmful and non-requiring high qualification
manufacturing in countries with cheap work force. However, in the world there are constant
differently developed trends on decreasing robotsprices and increasing the cost of work
force in developing countries. Industrial robots find more and more wide usage in different
spheres of many countries (Tilley, 2017).
IFR data shows that world-wide sales of industrial robots in 2018 have made $16.5
billion, taking into consideration peripheral equipment, software and costs for setting: about
$44.6 billion. In quantitative expression there has been sold 422 000 robots. Density of
robotization on average has reached 99 units on 10 000 workers. Main consumers of
industrial robots in 2018 were: automotive industry (more than 120 000 units, 30% of the
market), electronic and electrotechnical industries (105 000 units, 25% of the market) and
REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL ZULIA. 3ª época. Año 13 N° 36, 2022
Leonid B. Sobolev /// Robots in aerospace industry, 241-256
metalworking and engineering industries (43 000 units, 10% of the market). Despite the
whole number of established robots in the world is already higher than 2 million units, their
amount in different spheres continues to grow fast (Shaw, 2019).
World Economy Forum (WEF) in its annual report The Future of the Jobs-2018
estimated the share of world-wide production as 29%, which has been partly robotic (World
Economic Forum, 2018). As it was mentioned before, the growth of demand on robots is
accompanied by lowering their cost and expanding usage spheres. China more than other
countries buys industrial robots and, according to the data of Company IFI Claims, leads in
the amount of received patents and given applications for robotics (35% of the whole
amount), what is two times more than holding the second place Japan (Keisner et al., 2016).
In 2019 the growth of sales of industrial robots was slowed down because of structural
re-building of world-wide automotive industry (main consumer of industrial robots) and
certain saturation of the consumer electronics market. In 2020 there was a pandemic of
COVID-19, which has caused the crisis of touristic industry, and, as a result the demand falls
for civil aircrafts. Further development of aerospace industry in the nearest perspective,
including industry’s robotization will depend on rapidness of solving mentioned problems
(Yahoo finance, 2020). However, already in 2021, the recovery growth of the entire global
economy and industries affected by COVID-19 began. The purpose of this article is to analyze
the use of robots in the global aerospace industry, which is characterized by low production
volumes and the widespread use of manual labor of highly skilled workers.
1. Methodology
The article uses Qualitative Case Study Methodology, which is widely used in studies
related to the complexity or uncertainty of predicting the outcome. Aerospace sphere has
started robotization with delay, caused by rather small amounts of airplanes supplies, space
devices and surface equipment for this sphere. According to Flight Global, in 2019, there were
67 aerospace companies in the world with revenues in excess of $1 billion and another 25
companies with revenues from $0.5 billion to $1 billion, in which the use of robots can
increase the company's efficiency. Manufacturing components and assembly and control
processes are connected with big amount of hand operations, which are difficult for
robotization. Nevertheless, aerospace corporations more and more invest in robotization for
REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL ZULIA. 3ª época. Año 13 N° 36, 2022
Leonid B. Sobolev /// Robots in aerospace industry, 241-256
increasing the production flexibility and increasing labor productivity. Robots are widely
used in space exploration.
There are about 400 companies working on the world-wide market, producing
industrial robotics. Many small companies make robots’ accessories or software. Companies-
integrators collect form the ready accessories robots by consumer’s demands. Such individual
robots are more expensive for the consumer than ready robots. In robotic industry there are
many startups, created with the government support, which have made prototype and look
for the investor or a big Company for organizing mass production. The article shows
examples (cases) of successful cooperation between the aerospace and robotics industries,
providing an increase in labor productivity, safety and quality of production, assembly and
research work.
2. Results
2.1 Industrial robots in aerospace corporations
In aerospace industry the first to use robots in production processes were leaders of
aircraft industry: Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Bombarlber, who have reached rather
high volumes of production. All these companies have created robotic departments, which
closely interact with leading Japanese and European manufacturers of industrial robots and
with small companies, available to complete specialized order. Nowadays, the leading places
in production of industrial robots for different spheres of industry are taken by big Japanese
companies (FANUC, Yaskawa, Kawasaki, Nachi, Denso, Mitsubishi, Epson) and some
European companies (ABB, KUKA, Staubli, Universal Robots). Therefore, four companies
(FANUC, ABB, KUKA и Yaskawa) hold more than 50% of the market. With them mostly
interact leaders of the aircraft industry interact (Technavio Blog, 2019).
Thus, Boeing has implemented on its plants some robots of big industrial robots’
manufacturers: Fanuc and Kuka. Boeing is used Fanuc robots for drilling, riveting, coating,
painting, welding of aluminum structures and polishing. Robots of Kuka are established on
the fuselage assembly lines В777 in the city Everett, where sections of fuselage are collected
using rivets (about 60 000 units). Two manipulators of Kuka funcion synchronically: one
establishes and rivets fasteners and another inside the fuselage performs the function of an
anvil. Drilling holes in the fuselage is made by robot of another famous Company
Electroimpact Inc, which drills holes and installs fasteners. Clients of Electroimpact Inc,
REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DEL ZULIA. 3ª época. Año 13 N° 36, 2022
Leonid B. Sobolev /// Robots in aerospace industry, 241-256
except Boeing, are Northrop Grumman, Bombardier and Embraer. Four-year experience of
using robots for assembling fuselages B777 has shown that on this stage of robotization the
Company cannot fully decline the usage of experienced mechanics (Johnsson & Shukovsky, </