ManufacturingApril 2, 2024

The Importance of Quality Management in Aerospace and Defense

Quality is paramount, maintaining brand integrity as manufacturers transition towards new strategies. Manufacturers are faced with the challenge of balancing two competing factors: the cost of quality and improving quality standards.
Avatar Wendy (Klotz) Mlynarek

The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry has experienced remarkable shifts in recent years. Significant global disruptions, such as ongoing health crises and growing pressure to adopt sustainable practices, have invalidated traditional transactional strategies used by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to manage their supply chains. This spurs the need for innovation in the A&D space, necessitating the rethinking of transactional relationships to establish a comprehensive value network that spans design, manufacturing, and maintenance processes.

What is the role of quality?

Quality is paramount in this paradigm shift, maintaining brand integrity as manufacturers transition towards new strategies. Manufacturers are faced with the challenge of balancing two competing factors: the cost of quality (COQ), which takes up to 4.3% to 8.6% of customers’ total sales; and improving quality standards, which entails not just regulatory standards but also surpassing customer and industry expectations.

Added to all this is the fact that the significant, mission-critical impact of grounded or damaged aircraft on the OEM, supplies, airlines, passengers, and armed forces, meaning quality must be ‘first time right’ in the A&D industry. With these challenges in mind, it’s clear that quality must be maintained to the highest possible standard; yet, with manufacturers increasingly pressured to lower costs wherever they can, the significance of COQ in ensuring cost-effectiveness cannot be understated.

Managing strategic necessities in A&D

OEMs seeking greater efficiency in both quality and cost-effectiveness often find themselves pursuing the following objectives, with accompanying strategies:

Shortening the development cycle: Use advanced technologies, concurrent engineering, and agile methodologies for faster product market entry and cost optimization. Shifting the focus to first-time quality in engineering also shortens production maturation and increases production rate ramp-up.

Avoid design issues: Embrace robust risk assessment, design validation processes, and collaboration between engineering, manufacturing, and testing teams to mitigate costly rectifications. Leverage 3D Model-Based data for enhanced Quality of Design and Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis.

Ensure timely development: Adhere to project management best practices, APQP governance, implement agile methodologies, and foster a culture of efficiency and accountability to ensure on-time delivery and market readiness.

Break down silos: Cultivate a culture valuing interdisciplinary collaboration, encourage open communication, and establish cross-functional teams for holistic solutions, fostering innovation and efficiency in A&D product development.

Leverage organizational capabilities: Involve cross-functional teams early in product development, using structured processes to optimize organizational capabilities. Integrating teams from various departments in the initial phases reduces rework, saving time and money over the product life cycle.

These necessities lead to manufacturers adopting a proactive approach to quality, hoping to tackle issues before they happen. But are the benefits of adopting this approach worth the cost of transitioning your entire value chain?

Advantages of proactive quality management

Transitioning from a reactive, firefighting approach in quality management to a proactive one with continuous quality improvements and prevention offers substantial benefits to A&D. By shifting gears towards an approach that ensures quality throughout the value chain, manufacturers aiming for sustainable growth, customer satisfaction, and a competitive edge in the challenging business environment enjoy the following benefits:

Cost savings: Addressing quality issues post-occurrence may involve extensive rework, production stoppages, and, in some cases, recalls. This incurs significant costs. By realizing proactive quality improvements and prevention, manufacturers facilitate the early identification and mitigation of potential issues in the production cycle, reducing the overall cost of poor quality.

Enhanced productivity: By identifying and rectifying potential bottlenecks or inefficiencies in processes, manufacturers can streamline operations, minimize downtime, and ensure a more seamless production flow.

Customer satisfaction: Proactive quality management helps to meet and even surpass customer expectations by preventing defects and consistently delivering high-quality products. In doing so, manufactures increase customer satisfaction, cultivate brand loyalty, and secure a competitive advantage in the market.

Brand Reputation: Quality issues significantly impact a brand’s reputation. When high-profile recalls or quality-related incidents occur, consumer trust suffers as a result. Proactive quality improvements not only avert such incidents but also aid in building a positive brand image associated with reliability and excellence.

Regulatory compliance: The A&D industry adheres to stringent regulatory requirements, more so than many other industries. By transitioning to proactive quality measures, OEMs guarantee compliance with standards and regulations, mitigating legal and financial risks and showcasing a commitment to meeting industry standards.

Risk mitigation: Reactive approaches often involve responding to crises or emergencies, which can be chaotic and unpredictable. Proactive measures enable manufacturers to identify and mitigate risks before they escalate, creating a more controlled and predictable operating environment.

Continuous improvement culture: Embracing proactive quality improvement nurtures a culture of continuous enhancement within the organization. It encourages employees at all levels to actively participate in identifying areas for improvement, fostering innovation, and driving overall organizational excellence.

Time efficiency: Reactive approaches can result in prolonged resolution times, causing delays in production and delivery schedules. Proactive quality improvements save time by identifying and rectifying issues before they become significant, ensuring that operations remain on schedule.

Long-term sustainability: Proactive quality improvements contribute to the enduring sustainability of a manufacturing business. By minimizing waste, optimizing processes, and maintaining quality, organizations establish a foundation for enduring success in a rapidly-evolving business landscape.

Fly high with DELMIA

Integrated digital transformation in the A&D sector not only optimizes operations, enhancing asset availability and facilitating swift decision-making, but also aligns businesses strategically with sustainability imperatives. With DELMIA seamlessly integrated into the production line, A&D manufacturers can further enhance operational capabilities.

DELMIA’s unique ability to consolidate contextualized data into a comprehensive virtual model enables data-driven decisions, proactive measures, and efficient management of maintenance requirements. Leveraging advanced simulation capabilities and optimizing operational processes, DELMIA solutions provide a holistic perspective of the maintenance landscape. This propels asset management and MRO operations to new heights of efficiency and effectiveness.Imp

Next steps in a quality management plan

Learn more about how DELMIA’s approach to quality management can help you realize positive change throughout the value chain. Download Realize Data-Driven Total Quality Management in A&D Manufacturing

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