Pontifications: Digital transformation picks up steam

By Scott Hamilton

July 23, 2018, © Leeham News, Farnborough: Digital technology, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Thread and Digital Factory technologies continue to gain momentum for aerospace production as companies throughout the supply chain strive to cut costs.

The consulting firm Accenture, in advance of the international air shows in Paris or Farnborough, identifies that it sees as the key stories that will come out of the show.

Accenture was on target for Farnborough.

Indeed, the show was low energy, with fewer orders than many past shows. The largest orders came from that ubiquitous company, Unidentified (though more than 200 airplanes are believed to be destined for China).

Some companies sent smaller delegations or didn’t come at all.

The headline out of United Technologies was about digital. It was just one example of the digital stories at Farnborough this year.

Continuing transformation

LNC and I have talked throughout the last year about production transformation in the drive to lower costs, gain efficiencies and through automation address the increasing scarcity of the workforce pool.

John Schmidt, the global managing director for Accenture’s global aerospace practice, said the five themes named above also strive to improve product quality, security of product delivery, identify potential production issues and improve parts tracking and identify potential production anomalies.

“We move to solve problems, improve schedules and improve quality,” Schmidt said in an interview at the air show.

Predictive maintenance—tracking the health of airframe and engine systems—helps spot developing trends and gives maintenance teams the ability to either be ready to fix a problem on landing or preempt one from developing into a delay-making issue.

Up and down the supply chain

Schmidt said Accenture serves the full bandwidth in the supply chain.

“We can go as far down as needed,” he said, limited only by what contracts between the OEM and the supplier allows because access to proprietary information is needed to get the full benefit of tracking, quality control, production, etc.

Going into the show, Accenture outlined the following:

  1. Growth in the defense market. Geopolitical changes globally in the last year resulted in more money being spent on defense aircraft, bringing an upward swing to a market. sector.
  •  Blockchain. This distributed ledger technology can reduce aircraft maintenance costs and verify the accuracy of data. It has the potential to totally change the industry’s supply chain paradigm.
  • The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to address industry challenges.
  • The Digital Thread. Extending data flows for a specific product across its entire lifecycle, the digital thread has “the right information in the right place at the right time.”
  • The Digital Factory. This emerging technological construct promises to increase aircraft production and accelerate aircraft deliveries.

 At the show, Airbus touted its Skywise program launched a year ago that performs functions similar to that of Accenture.

Launched a year ago with four airlines and 20 internal applications, today 22 airlines covering 2,500 aircraft with 3.5pb of aviation data, 6,000 active users and more than 12m flights have been served.

Airbus uses the systems across six production plants in six countries.

Airbus suppliers use Skywise.

The digital transformation continues to pick up steam.

1 Comments on “Pontifications: Digital transformation picks up steam

  1. Ahh yes, the latest buzz for the busy CEO who is out of touch with his company.

    It used to be The 7 Pillars, then Sig Sigma, then we were Global, I forget where agile fell in there.

    Or you can just run your company with good solid basics and business practices that have been proven over time.

    The one from P&W that we know when a part is going to be late. Whooeeee.

    And what are you going to do about it? Do you have spares? Do you have dual sources for it? Can the other dual source get you that part?

    Or do you just send the engine team for SN: 3456 home for the week until you get the part?

    Digital by itself is useless, it requires a robust analytics organization to do something with it.

    That costs big bucks and a non healthy work force (all those millennials sitting around eating chips)

    Or do you really need digital and are you better off having the CEO walk the factory and see for himself.

    And yes I worked for a company you never saw El Presidente.

    I believe it was a quote from Kruchof: You need to get out of the office and go see whats going on. Sitting in the office tells you nothing.

    Fivethrityeight does a good job with it, but you stil lneed a lot of theory to do someitng with it.

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