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21.03.2019

Our view of the news

3DEXPERIENCE sets standards in Aerospace Manufacturing

Many medium-scale aviation suppliers don’t feel sufficiently prepared for the profound transformation process that’s taking place in their industry, reports Martin Buchholz in his article. He believes the latest news from AIRBUS shows that this will soon have to change.

Boeing made the first move: In 2017 the American aviation giant reported that it would rely on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as a digital enabler to address challenges in development and production. This year Airbus followed suit, announcing that from now on the Business Experience platform by Dassault Systèmes will safeguard the company’s digital continuity from development through to Operation.

A different way to develop, build and operate – the future of aircraft construction

Both companies speak about long-term strategic partnerships. This comes as no surprise, because it’s the only constellation that can drive change on such a massive scale.

No matter how agile their project management may be, this change will take time. It takes many steps to link 3D design, engineering, manufacturing, simulation and intelligence to establish true end-to-end process continuity – all the more so when it must be based on a single source of truth, used by collaborative applications to boost efficiency for all stakeholders.

Additionally, the innovations which Boeing, Airbus and Dassault Systèmes are pursuing can only be realized via a joint, partnership-based approach.

We are seeing the emergence of such innovation alliances in many fields of industry. To implement the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Boeing, Airbus and Dassault Systèmes will no doubt bring major suppliers on board as well.

Whatever the case, the results will produce benchmarks that will redefine the ways in which aircraft are conceived, built and operated.

 

 3DEXPERIENCE provides the development team with powerful 3D views of highly complex assemblies to optimize design at an early stage of development. (© Dassault Systèmes) | CENIT

3DEXPERIENCE provides the development team with powerful 3D views of highly complex
assemblies to optimize design at an early stage of development. (© Dassault Systèmes)

Better proactive than undecided

Wouldn’t a medium-scale company director be right to think “I’ll wait and see how things develop before I decide”? To make it perfectly clear: I believe that a purely reactive strategy is no longer an option. The news that two market-dominating aircraft makers are going ahead with cross-board implementation of 3DEXPERIENCE only increases the level of urgency.

Why is it that Boeing and Airbus are pursuing the highly complex goal of end-to-end process digitalization along the value chain? Because they believe it’s the only way they can meet the market challenges of the future.

These challenges – and I will revisit them in a moment – are equally valid for medium-size companies. Under all circumstances, highly specialized family businesses must avoid falling further behind OEMs and corporate-level suppliers when it comes to digitalization. And this doesn’t only apply to companies that have a CIO on their organigram!

 

Based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the customer experience can be visualized with immersive technology in order to better meet customer needs. (© Dassault Systèmes) | CENIT

Based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the customer experience can be visualized with
immersive technology in order to better meet customer needs. (© Dassault Systèmes)

Digital transformation for medium-scale industry

The right approach resizes the grand objective of digital transformation to reflect the needs of a mid-size company. That’s why we at CENIT have developed Ready to Grow: A lean, pre-configured point of entry into a scalable PLM solution.

From model based definition to simulation driven design to using digital twins in production – we can support you in developing and implementing your individual success strategy for almost any topic related to digital engineering.

Of course, this also applies to 3DEXPERIENCE platform introduction. BTW: We have received awards from Dassault Systèmes for our 3DEXPERIENCE benchmark projects.

Good to know in this context, too: CENIT has been a partner of major aircraft manufacturers worldwide for decades and supports companies in product lifecycle management and manufacturing.

Full order books for decades to come? Yes, for those who think ahead!

Looking at common business challenges facing medium-scale suppliers today, it pays to also consider the enormous growth that can be expected over the next 20 years. Trend forecasts can, for example, be found in market data published by AIRBUS (Global Market Forecast 2018-2037) and Boeing (Commercial Market Outlook 2018-2037).

Following these projections, the global aircraft fleet will more than double in size over this time period. Carriers from the Asian-Pacific region are expected to commission over 40 % of these new aircraft.

All these new planes first have to be built, and then they require regular maintenance and service. So – full order books for decades to come? Yes, but in my opinion only for those companies that keep pace and take a proactive approach to vital changes.

 

 3DEXPERIENCE allows you to create high-resolution live renderings based on CAD data in order to bring products to life. (© Dassault Systèmes) | CENIT

3DEXPERIENCE allows you to create high-resolution live renderings based on CAD data in
order to bring products to life. (© Dassault Systèmes)

Structural challenges

When I speak with business owners and managers from the supplier segment, they often mention similar problems. That the way their business is organized cannot address today’s customer focus requirements. That there is a lack of process transparency – generally, and specifically regarding control of subsidiaries. That staffers are overworked and therefore unhappy, but that there is no effective HR strategy to remedy the situation.

One growth bottleneck is the lack of qualified staff, another is the need to internationalize – buzzword: Asia. In owner-managed companies, impending generation changes may be an issue as well. In such circumstances, many things can seem more important than embarking on a complex exercise to develop an integrated production strategy, especially if it appears that the company has plenty of short and medium-term orders in hand.

Where to focus your activities

I have had the opportunity to be involved in projects where the decision-makers decided to take comprehensive action to achieve and/or protect a long-term market lead.

Successful activities typically addressed the following topics:

  • Customer focus: Reinforcement of business presence in core market locations to speed up support and ensure that the teams speak the client’s language.
  • Consulting/sales: Providing sales with the skills and means needed for successful interaction with the purchasing divisions of corporate clients. Establishing efficient key account and project management systems.
  • Recruiting/retention: Modern recruiting methods make it easier to find new staff. Professional retention management promotes long-term staff loyalty.
  • Customer service: An updated aftersales management strategy offers the company rapid, comprehensive aftersales services with an optimum cost-benefit structure.
  • Process quality: If there is enough courage to effect real change, the company can introduce rapid, lucid, uncomplicated and consistent processes across the board. A modern IT architecture and appropriate software make such an investment future-proof.


 3D-Mock-Up of an aircraft cockpit in CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE (© Dassault Systèmes) | CENIT

3D-Mock-Up of an aircraft cockpit in CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE (© Dassault Systèmes)

 

As a medium-scale business, you have advantages that you should exploit as best you can: You can be faster than an unwieldy corporation, and you can act more confidently than a startup because you are grounded in established values.

How do you see it? What fields of activity would you add to the list? How can I as a specialist for the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and on-cloud solutions assist you? I would be very pleased to hear from you, via email at m.buchholz@cenit.com or on Linkedin. I look forward to your Input!