LCM 4/5/6 – Long Bed Machine Upgrade

Industry: Manufacture of Aircraft
Location: Broughton (UK)
Size: 6,000

Company Bio

Airbus is an international reference in the aerospace sector. We design, manufacture and deliver industry-leading commercial aircraft, helicopters, military transports, satellites and launch vehicles, as well as providing data services, navigation, secure communications, urban mobility and other solutions for customers on a global scale.

With a forward-looking strategy based on cutting-edge technologies, digital and scientific excellence, we aim for a better-connected, safer and more prosperous world.


Due to very unique machine tools being close to the end of their life cycle. Airbus had a choice to either purchase new machine tools or update the assets they had. The most economical and least disruptive solution, would see three huge wing producing machine tools turned into two. The new retrofitted machine tools would see their life extended by at least 10 years. It would also see improved uptime of 95% and increased cycle time for all components manufactured on these machines.

The Challenge

The project defined a requirement to redesign, manufacture, install and commission the refurbishment, upgrade and reconfiguration of the long bed machining centres LCM 4/5/6 with LCM area at Airbus Broughton.

The original long bed machines had been in service for over 14 years and required refurbishment. The configuration of the machine bed would change from three twin spindle machines to two twin spindle machines. LCM 4 would be removed completely and useable spares returned to Airbus. The new configuration would enable pendulum loading of components on the remaining machines. The main purpose of this project was to improve breakdown rates and remove obsolescence issues.

The Approach

F JandP

Due to size and complexity of this project we worked in partnership with Fives Cinetic. Fives have a close relationship with Airbus, but wanted to utilise J&P Groups expertise of these machine tools and also our local site knowledge at Broughton. Over the course of the project we formed a strong alliance with Fives and hope to work with them again in the future on similar projects.
LCM Infographic

The Solution

Airbus UK had wanted a complete package of works that included; design, supply, installation, commissioning, documentation and training where necessary. A spares & consumables package was also requested to be supplied, this would enable the equipment to be used throughout its design lifetime. Minimising machine downtime was critical to the success of this project. The machine ran a mixture of 5 & 7 day 24hr working. Consideration had to be taken into ensuring Project Plan milestones where adhered to. Shift working was employed by staff to minimise downtime. Apart from short periods during removal and replacement of large components, 2 machines had to be available to produce 21M components at all times.

Original Machine Condition

  • Obsolescence issues for critical parts.
  • Poor machine accuracy and repeatability, contributed defective components.
  • Long spare part lead-times, due to obsolescence.
  • Part cycle times where poor due to slow maximum axis travel.
  • Unable to pendulum load parts onto bed, due to configuration issues.
  • Old out of date measuring systems.
  • Operators controls stations where dark and cramped.
  • Safety systems needed reviewing and upgrading to comply with PUWER regulations.

Refurbishment Technical Specification

  • A complete retrofit of the electrical system including a Siemens 840D Solution Line control system. Simatic digital drives.
  • Y,Z, W & X axis measuring systems, replaced with Heidenhain systems.
  • Siemens Weiss grease packed spindles where upgraded to run with new chiller systems and digital drives.
  • All X axis hardware was replaced including; Linear rails, Bearings, Racks and Gearboxes.
  • Complete retrofit of machine wiring and remote I/O.
  • Complete retrofit of ATC system.
  • Swarf extraction and vacuum system upgraded.

The Results

As a result of the machine upgrade program, Airbus can be confident that they will be able to produce the components they need to for many years to come. Spare parts and support will be readily available if required. The machines will better meet new Heath, Safety and Environmental requirements.

Machine Up Time


Freedom from machine breakdown during the machine warranty period.

Technical Support


Guaranteed technical support of components and systems for project completion.

Design Advantage


Each new machine can now cover 70% of the machine bed. Enabling safe pendulum component loading.