Thinking big with big data

AMJune18Features - aescom
AMJune18Features - aescom

According to AeSCoM’s business manager, Phil Curnock, embracing disruptive technologies and digitalisation are key to supply chain success through the next decade.


Having worked in the aerospace industry for 40 years I have seen a huge amount of change over this period. My first experience of IT solutions came as a purchasing administrator, taking Telex messages and passing them to my buying colleagues and raising my first ever paper purchase order for Concorde parts. Fast forward to the present day, the supply chain is striving to maintain world-class supplier performance with its protagonists continuing to differentiate themselves and implement new technologies.

A lot has changed and improved over this period of time. Much of which I have been lucky to see through my privileged position in managing the industry’s SC21 improvement programme. The improvement journey is continuous, and I am delighted to see further solutions to help companies at different levels of maturity progressively launching during this year. There is still plenty of areas to help companies grow across the sector.

One of the many challenges I still see is the diverse range of companies within the aerospace and defence supply chain - from companies still being predominantly run on paper processes, through to the opposite end of the scale where company systems are very mature with consistent data and are now embracing Industry 4.0 digital solutions at an accelerated pace.

One sector that has really excited me over the last couple of years is the aircraft interiors market. New designs and customer experiences are being launched every year, which creates a highly dynamic and fast-moving market with huge growth potential.

These are very much driven through the need for a far greater all-round customer cabin experience, coupled with the continuous drive to save weight and cost. The challenge must come back to the materials and processes of manufacturing in this sector that do not seem to have changed in over 30 years.

A good example of this is the traditional Nomex honeycomb core. Whilst this has been the base material for a significant period of time, it is not conducive to making the shapes and designs of the future. New solutions are now coming to the market that can deliver major savings on weight, and aid designers in delivering solutions that previously would have been thought to be unachievable for manufacturers to produce. Also, these solutions can also dispel the myth that low cost labour sourcing is the only solution. The sector needs a step change in implementing innovative solutions that can bring major savings in weight, cost of manufacture and solutions that enable design to be more creative.

I also find fascinating the continual development of Industry 4.0 and the varying pace of companies embracing these highly pioneering solutions. I have seen, first-hand, companies getting to grips with implementing solutions in various major companies in the aerospace industry at both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels. I believe far greater numbers of companies need to engage, and I am delighted to see the launch of the National Digital Readiness tool to aid companies going forward.

One example is live digital data capture. This has enormous potential across a wide range of applications in aiding cost reduction, lowering cycle times and the impact on delivery lead-times. An area that this can help address is in the capture and resolution of quality issues. The audit process today is still a long, time-consuming and costly activity. Implementing digital solutions can bring quality into the digital world and deliver further benefits.



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