FORCAM explains how aerospace manufacturers can remain competitive with a little help from the German automotive sector and a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
In 2015, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers published the Aerospace Report, which revealed that 62% of UK aerospace engineers believed productivity issues were a threat to the UK’s position as global aerospace power.
Fast-forward one year, and productivity levels in aerospace manufacturing continue to outpace national levels in other industries. So why are we worried?
The UK aerospace sector has experienced another year of growth, with an increasing number of companies offering apprenticeships to close the skills gap and overall turnover increasing to £31.1bn.
The prospects look good, and even the unresolved Brexit situation hasn’t seemed to mar the analysts’ outlooks as badly as predicted.
Britain remains the second largest aerospace industry worldwide, and increased defence budgets at home and on the continent signal positivity for exporters, should the government manage to negotiate new trade deals for UK exports.
Aerospace productivity is healthy compared to other UK manufacturing sectors, however this isn’t indicative of success, as productivity levels overall are lagging behind other G7 countries.
And there are further issues, such as aggressive ramp up rates and strict delivery schedules dictated by multinationals like Airbus and Rolls-Royce that keep the pressure on SMEs and the supply chain.
Various reports urge aerospace manufacturers to continue investing in innovations and new platforms to keep up the rate of growth, and ultimately keep the UK relevant on the global aerospace market.
The German automotive industry will always be a good source of innovative ideas. Products are rapidly developing and becoming smarter, but more importantly, processes and manufacturing itself is becoming smarter.
MTU Aero Engines has adopted IT systems from the German automotive industry to great effect to monitor and optimise its production facilities. One of these solutions is FORCAM FORCE – a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) used to collect and benchmark performance data on industrial shop floors.
The solution delivers real-time data from all key assets as a basis for continuous improvement. In many cases, this data helps in reducing downtime on machines by up to 90%, thereby increasing operating capacities.
FORCAM FORCE also delivers production-relevant data, such as machining programmes; assembly instructions and inspection plans to ensure products are manufactured correctly and to high standards; and an automated scheduling tool that ensures orders are distributed in the most efficient way.
Hyde Aerospace is one of the first UK aerospace companies to adopt the FORCAM technology. Within a year of deployment, Hyde has progressed into the Top 5 Airbus suppliers for on time delivery.
It has profited from cost reductions, where the solution has helped to pinpoint machine downtime, allowing for accurate machine rates.
FORCAM’s MES solution could be the answer to keeping the UK relevant as an aerospace manufacturing base, and keep growth levels as successful as they are today.
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