A recent PwC survey predicts that nearly 75% of all companies will be digitized by 2020. Digital manufacturing has turned into a silver bullet, being discoursed in every boardroom with companies chalking out strategies to capitalize on this promising opportunity. Changing the established dynamics, almost all the key industries are already evolving in close harmony with the elements of Industry 4.0.

Industry leaders agree to the fact that digital connectivity has the power to harness enormous value and change the manufacturing landscape forever. Aero manufacturers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are also implementing digital manufacturing solutions, to place themselves in a stronger position and meet the forces encountered amidst the challenging global manufacturing environment.

A&D Industry takes the flight with Digital Thread

A survey by Capgemini suggests that about 62% – 67% of companies in the aeronautics, arms and automotive industries have adopted a digital factory approach. Hence, the aviation industry has again proved to be an early adopter of cutting-edge technology.

As intense competition drives the speed of technological innovation, the current aerospace manufacturing landscape urgently needs to boost production rate to meet high demands. Building the parts of aircraft and other components efficiently requires technological innovation and enhanced performance through all levels of supply chain. Hence, it can be concluded that the A&D ecosystem’s inflexible supply chain model needs the scalable solution of the digital thread.

Digital thread and Digital twin capabilities will become an advantage enabling future operating models, giving the A&D ecosystem a broader, deeper, redefined and predictive insights on a massive scale. Thus, Aero manufactures and OEM’s are experiencing a new revolution in their businesses. Digital capabilities have enabled them for real-time exchange of large amounts of data, generate insights to facilitate communication with this data and also transform the linear value-chain into a united value wheel.

The shift of market cycle towards Digital Manufacturing Solutions

The commercial aviation industry is at the forefront of digital transformation, so it comes as no surprise that airlines are looking at automation and other innovative technologies to address key pain points,” says Graham Grose, Vice President and Industry Director at the Aviation & Defense Business Unit, IFS.

Digital manufacturing solution providers are placing themselves in a stronger position to meet the constant pressure of the aero manufacturers. It’s all about diving deep into the new connected environment and starting with the transformation process of agile collaboration, a faster time-to-market, structuring deals to generate a 360-degree view of customer data, recurring revenue streams that lift the profit margins and many more other challenges which manufacturers have solved with digital solutions. Here’s a detailed a look at a few of them.

  1. New Advanced Materials:
    Developments in rapid prototyping, as well as the on-demand capabilities offered by digital manufacturing solutions, have revolutionized the mindset of OEM’s. The ability to quickly and comfortably deliver the necessary parts has made the development cycle smoother. Higher production volume, replacing traditional materials with new lightweight, high strength materials and by increasing the fatigued life have proven to be a catalyst for increasing aircraft performance. 
  1. Additive Manufacturing:
    Aerospace companies as an early adopter of additive manufacturing are investing more in the technology to achieve weight saving, reduce part count and accomplish structural and space optimization. Not just for rapid prototyping, additive technology is being globally leveraged for end-use in aircraft manufacturing with a projected market capitalization exceeding $325 mil by 2022.
  1. Next-Gen Repair Technologies:
    A survey predicts that by 2020, 15-20% of the projected $83.2 billion MRO aftermarket spend could be affected by new technology. Hence, it can be concluded that the next-generation of aircraft will also bring a dramatic change in repair technologies. The aircraft built with advanced materials will have a different repair approach. With this rapid ramp-up to new platforms and materials, MROs need to increase R&D and find new ways for repairs.

Aligning to key characteristics of Digital Manufacturing Solutions

The advent of these digital manufacturing solutions helps to communicate with waypoints and direction. Global strategic partners like QuEST proposes to achieve insight, safety, and security throughout day-to-day operational processes that augment seamless passenger journeys and increase operational efficiencies. By developing the roadmap for digital manufacturing solution and elaborating on key stages of the transformation journey, let’s look through each level and identify their attributes.

  1. Map out Industry 4.0 strategy
    The aerospace industry is poised with positive growth. Rising passenger traffic and decreasing crude oil prices have led the industry to evaluate its own digital maturity now and clearly set targets for the next few years. Prioritize all the measures that will bring most value and are aligned in harmony with the elements of Industry 4.0.
  1. Define capabilities
    The global Aerospace and Defense industry revenues are expected to grow. Hence, intense competition will help map out in detail what capabilities are yet to be set to achieve the future vision. It is important to remember to develop strategies for attracting people and improving processes and new technologies.
  1. Create the pilot projects
    It is always suggested to establish proof of concept and demonstrate business value. With some major trends and drivers currently shaping the aerospace industry, it has become important to target a confined scope and at the same time highlight the end-to-end concept of Industry 4.0.
  1. Transform into a digital enterprise
    For capturing the full potential of Industry 4.0 it is important to set clear leadership, commitment and vision to re-invent its capabilities at a faster rate than in the past to stay ahead of the game. Speed can be the game changer.
  1. Process efficiencies with a planned ecosystem approach
    Process integrity and efficiencies should be on the top of the mind for aviation manufacturers with meeting key touch points that crafts perfect order, meet client needs and upsurges profitability goals. 

The Solution is Underway

Leveraging the solutions of digital manufacturing, across the entire Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) in A&D industry, OEMs can now transform their business ahead of the Aerospace 4.0 wave. They would need to take a cue from the recent trends in digital manufacturing, and harness the potential of digital factory suite of products.

Even if it seems that the pace of change is already great, it can possibly get better with strategic partners like QuEST, who has been in the market for 2 decades with digital manufacturing lab to harness the full potential of digital manufacturing solutions and unfold the myriad ways of implementing such turnkey solutions in aircraft manufacturing.

By QuEST Global
By QuEST Global
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