Is aerospace fully exploiting digital technologies?

Most UK aerospace organisations are embedding digital technologies, but it’s not all clear skies ahead, according to industry leaders both internal and external to the sector.

Digital Transformation Digital Technologies Innovation Stock - - June 2016
Digital transformation represents a step-change in many areas, from integrated supply chains to new business growth opportunities via service delivery.

Digital technologies are changing the way manufacturers operate, regardless of size, sector, or location. Through greater, more intelligent use of data and smarter, connected processes, technologies are influencing the way organisations behave and operate.

Digital is playing an ever more important role in the economy, and its impact is beginning to be realised throughout UK aerospace. Digital transformation represents a step-change in many areas, from integrated supply chains to new business growth opportunities via service delivery (servitization).

Many aerospace companies may have taken a first step on their digital transformation journey, however the goal is principally to deliver incremental efficiency and productivity improvements.

The majority aren’t considering the potential to change business models; in this regard, aerospace is following – but it could be leading.

The Aerospace Technology Institute’s lead technologist, Paul Clarke, has spent the past few months working with the UK aerospace community to examine the maturity of digital capability across all areas of the value chain: highlighting how aerospace is transforming through the use of digital, identifying key technology trends and providing clarity around their application.

Using insights gathered from inside and beyond the sector, the ATI has created a framework representing the possibilities that digital technology can offer. It covers market-led business opportunities and capability needs and quantifies some of the barriers to adoption.

The institute has published the framework and its view of digital transformation in the inaugural issue of INSIGHT, a new series of ATI publications that will explore a range of cross-sector issues and topics.

Clarke explained: “The digital transformation white paper enables companies to assess where they are on the digital journey and their direction of travel.

“It ranges from straightforward ‘low hanging fruit’, that should be the starting point for any business wanting to optimise its operations, through to high-level, customer-oriented concepts.”