The key to digital transformation in aerospace and defence manufacturing and R&O

Posted on 13 May 2024 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

Aerospace and defence manufacturing, repair & overhaul operations need comprehensive enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions to meet increasing demands on their assets, workers and facilities.

Digitalization is transforming the way industrial companies design, produce, distribute and service their products. With smart, connected solutions, the fourth industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 – is driving higher levels of performance on the plant floor and on the balance sheet.

McKinsey & Company says Industry 4.0 can deliver 30-50% reductions in machine downtimes, 10-30% increases in throughput, 15-30% improvement in labour productivity and 85% better forecasting. For this reason, companies in asset-intensive industries like utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals have made the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other advancements centre pieces of their operations.

Digital transformation improves manufacturing and repair & overhaul performance

The promise of Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation for aerospace and defence is exceedingly challenged due to past introductions of technology which have resulted in isolated, solution-specific systems, ultimately decreasing efficiency and operational awareness.

  • Valuable data to facilitate factory management, improve product quality, and ease supply chains is inaccessible across kluged together disparate systems.
  • Paper process dominate, and tribal knowledge drives complex process’ in reporting & maintenance operations.
  • Leaders lack metrics to objectively benchmark and measure performance as it relates to multi-stakeholder objectives; across various facilities, teams, vendors, processes, etc., and make decisions.

Additionally, export controls, standards, and the persistently increasing threat of cybercrime further slow the adoption of technologies and tools to fulfil the digital promise in aerospace and defence manufacturing.

Enterprise Performance Management solutions are leveraged across many commercial industries today to provide a multi-stakeholder view on the state of the production operations across multiple operating windows.

  • EPM solutions for the workforce digitize standard operations procedures, prioritize work to aid in WIP management, and can reduce wasted time by 30%.
  • EPM solutions for asset management increase asset availability, reduce energy consumption, and can result in millions of dollars in maintenance savings annually.
  • EPM solutions for operations, at their most robust, aid in the streamlining of workflows across IT/OT domains, facilitating automation across the operation and aiding in financial management.

Well executed EPM solutions increase efficiency of an enterprise across various realms of operation and set the foundation for further technology adoption and advancement, such as AI, ML and AR/VR/XR.

Digitization is at the heart of automation, and AI is its promise

AI & ML offer huge potential in the aerospace & defence manufacturing and repair & overhaul operations.

  • Digital representations of assets, facilities, and workflows use machine learning to generate trends to make predictions about performance and applies AI to create insights which accelerate decision making.
  • Image processing with applied AI accelerates conformance testing, improves part yield, and can reduce material waste and re-work.
  • Extended reality tools applied to work instructions can reduce error and accelerate worker upskilling.

These promising advancements in technology share a common foundation: data. Data must be accessible, available, and usable in a way which is trustable, linkable, and able to be operationalized in a timeframe of relevance and to the users who need it. A strong Enterprise Performance Management solution supports this through the aggregation of data across multiple domains of the business.

Cloud-based EPM solutions serve these needs across multiple sites, facilities, and shops. Cloud-based EPM offered through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model helps scale digital transformation efforts through:

  • Lower IT burden & downtime by leveraging usage-based, managed infrastructure.
  • Faster time to value, lower cost of procurement, and de-risked adoption through a service offering.
  • Better user experience via continuous release and development.
  • Increased cybersecurity through continuous monitoring & options for redundancy.

Other attractive features of strong EPM solutions are role-based access control to meet compliance requirements and support low or no-code deployment. These features lower the management cost of the solution and enable the user to quickly expand the solution to scale or extend it to new use cases.

EPM solutions area a fundamental building block to operationalizing data inside of an operation. EPM is a part of the digital foundation to launch the dream of Industry 4.0 and should be implemented with a strategy which first focuses on advancing the critical business functions of the organization. Done well, these solutions pave the way for effective, responsible, and efficient adoption of advanced technologies that will take aerospace and defence manufacturing operations to new heights.

For a deeper dive, download this whitepaper on the operational objectives of Asset Performance Management.

The key to digital transformation in aerospace and defense manufacturing and R&O - Honeywell

Francesca Gazzola is the Director of Product at Honeywell Connected Aerospace. Francesca leads Defense applications of Honeywell’s enterprise industrial software portfolio. Her career demonstrates an expertise and established footprint in Advanced Air Mobility, UAS/UAM, 5G for Airborne & Autonomous Operations, Software for Defense & Aerospace, Electronics Design, and Application Engineering. Connect on LinkedIn.


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