The continuing increase in demand for aircraft across the commercial and defense sectors is intensifying pressure on aerospace and defense (A&D) companies to operate their shop floor faster and more efficiently. This applies to OEMs and to Tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers. Also, many players in the aerospace industry are expanding and revamping their aftermarket and spare parts capabilities and, therefore, need to consider the additional complexities this creates in the organization.
To meet this demand and be competitive, A&D companies have to revisit their application technology landscape. Many of the legacy landscapes of companies part of the aerospace industry are a combination of ERP, PLM, legacy applications, custom applications, and Excel spreadsheets that are used to manage the manufacturing and aftermarket business.
What is the Future?
The answer to this demand is the Digital Thread, an application technology landscape for aerospace manufacturing that will connect the data from customer requirement all the way through design, build, and support. This linkage provides the aerospace industry an integrated and comprehensive view of product information across the traditional siloed functional areas. It encompasses CRM, PLM, ERP, MES/MOM, and aftermarket solutions all working in conjunction from a common data set.
This can be confusing because many of the traditional boundaries between these enterprise applications are crossing over. For example, PLM software companies have purchased and integrated MES/MOM solutions into their product mix and are incorporating many of the functions that a traditional ERP would maintain. This blurring of boundaries creates many different possible solutions for your application landscape.
For companies enhancing, or expanding, into the aftermarket and spares business, the connection of data throughout the lifecycle of manufacturing is very important. Having an integrated, robust MRO solution that can manage the growing demand and provide key data to your customers is critical.
Waves of technology advancement have led to enabling new creative solutions for the shop floor and MRO facilities, e.g., the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, affordable robotics, machine learning, and mobile-connected computing.
These new technology solutions can provide many benefits to aerospace manufacturing companies, including:
- Zero-defect manufacturing
- Rapid adaptable production lines
- Energy efficiencies
- Resource efficiencies (labor, tools, machines, etc.)
- Continuous skills improvement with multiskilled jobs
- Adaptable work environments
- Reduced/zero paper environment
Establishing this digital thread with a revamped application technology landscape will enable these new technologies to improve the shop floor as well as your aftermarket and spares business, providing a real-time account of the status of production and aftermarket support.
Establishing the digital thread through the application landscape and connecting data from customer requirement all the way through support will enable the use of the newer technologies like IoT, AI, and advanced analytics that will provide the visibility and efficiency needed to compete for successful manufacturing companies. The next step is to review the building blocks to the new application technology landscape.