Stephen Molloy, aerospace, defence and industrials director at G&P Group Holdings, who is an IMechE Chartered Engineer and whose previous roles include senior positions in aerospace OEMs and aircraft systems providers, discusses how quality cannot be compromised as the aerospace sector plans for the future.
While some predict that there will be a rapid recovery for the aerospace sector when Covid-rates are under control internationally, not knowing when this point will be reached means businesses are hesitant to hire people.
However, being able to maintain quality while increasing production is critical to the future of aerospace businesses. Furthermore, aerospace companies must strive to be as efficient as possible while delivering on time as rates rise in order to be competitive during the regrowth phase and beyond.
Core to this is protecting build-lines from disruption and poor quality, while maximising their production effectiveness. This is achieved by defining the problem through measurement, analysis, audit and data. From this, G&P then works with clients to develop a permanent fix, to improve quality levels and drive problems back to root cause to ultimately eradicate them.
In addition to the above, G&P also supports the aerospace sector with supplier capacity and capability assessments, technical document vetting, supplier improvement activities, containment services, fault analysis imaging and reverse engineering.
Nevertheless, whether it’s with the support of solution providers such as G&P or actioned in-house, it’s also crucial that aerospace companies maintain quality standards to avoid the reputational and financial costs associated with non-conformance. This is also essential for long-lasting customer relationships that will be important to winning business in the future.
G&P itself has prepared for the upturn by keeping as many people as possible employed throughout the pandemic so that the workforce offers the flexibility and strength in depth that aerospace customers require. The company has also provided employees with the opportunity to work in new sectors, enhancing their skills.
The company also adapted its working protocols in order to maintain quality standards for its customers. For example, although site visits are the most effective way to conduct supplier audits and quality inspections, G&P has been able to offer very productive remote solutions involving online calls and desktop audits.
Meanwhile, as in most manufacturing industries there is also a growing focus on sustainability in aerospace, creating fresh challenges and new opportunities, such as an increased number of electric aircraft, hybrid power plants and sustainable aviation fuels. These environmental changes are already at the centre of the automotive sector, primarily through the rapid development and adoption of battery and electric vehicles.
G&P’s established presence in the automotive sector means the company has already developed relevant services and employee training programmes that are contributing to sustainability results while maintaining quality standards throughout the production process. The result is that the company is in a strong position to serve the emerging environmental focuses of the aerospace industry which will become ever more prevalent in the coming years.
Commitment to a long-term diversification strategy is also key to G&P and is possible because many of the services – including inspection, supplier management and quality audits, finished product acceptance, containment and rework, and scanning services – are transferable to multiple industries such as off-highway, household goods, marine and rail.
Therefore, in an ever-changing world where disruption reigns, quality in production, whether it’s in aerospace or another manufacturing sector, must be maintained and should be given even greater priority than before.