June 14, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Increasing use of digital technology will be one of the stories to watch at the Paris Air Show, says the consulting firm Accenture.
Airbus and Boeing are expanding their use of digital technology. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told Aviation Week digital will be a key role in development of the next new airplane as a way to reduce costs.
Airbus applied digital technology to the A350 development. But its next new airplane will, like Boeing, be the program to really benefit.
John Schmidt, global managing director of Accenture’s Aerospace and Defense practice, said in a recent survey, “98% of the executives we surveyed are investing in digital services.”
This includes building a new building, investing in robotics, finance sales., etc.. Accenture also is seeing evidence of this in aftermarket.
Jeff Wheless, global aerospace and defense lead for Accenture, said digital technology for the aftermarket is good way to frame that aircraft are flying longer, fuel is lower and passenger demand is keeping the fleets flying.
“’How do I use digital to serve existing fleet?’” Wheless asks. The answer is that this enhances forecasting parts demand.
The industry is also “seeing quite a bit of new technology digital technology to feed engines and airframes to be better to operate and produce the aircraft,” he said, point to Boeing’s new use of robotics for building the new wing for the 777X as an example.
Wheless said that the majority of aerospace companies starting to inject Artificial Intelligence into production to get working side-by-side with humans on the
production line. Augmented Reality by Airbus in cabin equipment to make sure job is done right the first time and reduce rework, he said.
Union members are sensitive to automation and AI replacing their touch laborers, but Wheless and Schmidt don’t see much in the way of displacement.
“There is a definite shift,” Wheless said, but “it’s not about laying off workers, its working side-by-side with workers. It’s about increasing capacity and quality.”
“I don’t see any huge displacements of workers,” Schmidt said. “The characteristics of workers in industry are shifting. We’re seeing flexible workers and adapting to technologies. We’re seeing increased efficiencies and effectiveness of processes.”