The project will develop a breakthrough Collaborative Robotic System for the Handling and Tooling of very heavy aeronautical parts in different workcells, e.g. sealing, welding and WAAM workcells:

  • The innovative Robot-Robot (R-R) and Human-Robot (H-R) system will represent a dramatic progress in the application of Collaborative Robotics with very high payloads, reach and safe H-R interaction. So far, Cobots are used for quite low payloads (<15 kg). The robots to be integrated in SOFOCLES have a payload of 150 Kg.
  • The Flexible and Reconfigurable System to be implemented on the robots will serve at the same time as handling and tooling system (Concept “Robot as Tooling”), and valid for sealing, welding or manufacturing by WAAM, many different complex assemblies (by means of its flexibility and reconfigurability).
  • The Digital Twin of the SOFOCLES system will fully include the Human interaction with the robots and the workcell in general, which represents an innovation in the field of Digital Twins.

Several Industry 4.0 technologies will be applied: Collaborative Robotics; Digital Twin; Internet of Things both for humans and mechanical sub-systems; 3D Vision; Additive Manufacturing for complex components; Data Analytics for analyzing the data provided by IoT, correcting deviations and correlating them with process quality; Horizontal and Vertical Integration and Communications; High Level Robotic and Mechatronic simulations.

Expected Output, Impact and Market

SOFOCLES project will tackle a multidisciplinary approach for reducing the costs and increasing the productivity in the Handling & Tooling (H&T) of large aeronautical parts for different processes (e.g. sealing, welding and WAAM). It will consist on the development of a breakthrough solution integrating two collaborative robots of very high payload, together with a flexible and reconfigurable H&T system and digital tools for the safe and effective Human-Robot interaction.


  • Reduction of 50% in the time of positioning and clamping the parts, through the development of a flexible and smart automated H&T system.
  • 40% reduction in the costs related to auxiliary tasks in the workcell, due to their automation
  • Elimination of errors in the positioning and clamping of the parts in the cell, due to the H-R collaboration and smartization.
  • 50% reduction of errors in the process, in line with the objective of “zero-defect process”, due to the maximum optimization of the fixtures, as it will be possible to manufacture them of highly complex geometries by means of AM.
  • 80% cost reduction of the needed tooling by its flexibility.
  • 50% reduction of the costs of the cell, by using the same system for handling and tooling.
  • Elimination of risks in the handling of large structural parts by the operators, by the implementation of a safe and efficient H-R collaborative system.
  • MARKET: 
    • Aernnova is a Tier1 supplier of the main aeronautical OEM’s. This sector usually requires many changes in the components, demanding continous adaptation of the tooling and handling systems.  The aircraft market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15% in the period 2018-2036. Regarding COMAU, the collaborative robot market is estimated to be valued at €10,000 million by 2025, at a CAGR of 50.31% between 2017 and 2025, and this solution will differentiate them from its competitors, because the Cobots are currently being used only for small payloads.
    • KEYTECH (AMOND Group) is a supplier of key companies of the main industrial sectors, such as Aeronautics, Energy (mainly Renewable Energy sector) and Machines Manufacturing. In addition to the aforementioned impact in Aeronautcics, the share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth in the next five years to reach 12.4% in 2023. Renewables will have the fastest growth in the electricity sector, providing almost 30% of power demand in 2023, up from 24% in 2017.