Aerospace & defenseJuly 3, 2018

Key challenges facing the Aerospace and Defense sector

This post was originally included in our UK team’s Innovation Blog.  …
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This post was originally included in our UK team’s Innovation Blog.

by Ronnie Coupland

In my role as Sales Director for Aerospace and Defense in the UK for Dassault Systemes, I wanted to share some of my perspectives on Aerospace. Firstly, we can focus on three key areas, each with their own unique challenges. Commercial Aviation where the current general focus is on delivering against the massive backlogs, focusing on flexible rate (getting the right aircraft out of the door at the right time) and potentially vast growth ahead with significant opportunity in emerging markets. In the Space Sector, which I see as still largely commercially driven, the focus is very much on grabbing market share, driving products to market rapidly, accelerating the innovation spiral yet simultaneously protecting intellectual property in an exceptionally competitive field. Finally, I see the Defense market, whilst we now have some green shoots of change in traditional western markets, the focus has been on maximizing the growing export opportunity, supporting indigenous programs with Aerospace export consultancy across design and manufacture, I believe that this will lead to a refocus on High Value Engineering Tasks for the traditional Tier 1 OEMS.

As we head into Farnborough International Airshow 2018, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the key challenges facing the Aerospace and Defense Sector that I see on a daily basis. What do I see more specifically than those themes above? Let me try to provide my perspective on 4 Key Areas:

Accelerated Innovation

New technologies are accelerating innovation while significantly dropping the barriers to entry into the aerospace market. New startups are reinventing short-range transportation while regional aircraft makers are adding more pressure to the broader commercial aviation market. How can the sector and the larger OEM’s capture this accelerated innovation in a way which safely allows them to impact established and trusted processes? If breaking the cost curve is the goal, then capturing, cultivating and deploying this accelerated innovation is one of the key ways to achieve this.

Test, Validation and Verification

On a daily basis I discuss ways in which we can accelerate the maturity of an engineering lifecycle, we explore ways in which we can work in a more agile fashion, with reduced cost, enhanced collaboration in real time and all within the parameters of the pursuit of a single digital thread. I believe that one of THE key areas of focus is the area of Virtual Test, Validation and Verification. The day of not needing the proverbial lorry load of paperwork to achieve certification will come. In the short term those who can connect with experts and authorities to accelerate the certification of new design and methods, Visualize and simulate new concepts without the need for costly prototypes or Physical testing and can Prototype new concepts, methods and processes rapidly without significant capital investment will be the companies who continue to grow, evolve and take market share. However, the message is clear, the journey has begun and we need to make sure that we take all of the relevant stakeholders on this journey with us.

Leverage Innovation Collaboration

Aerospace companies are infamous for having long standing, very experienced and knowledgeable workforces. But how do we capture and protect that knowledge? At Dassault Systemes we believe this to be one of the key use cases of our 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, a way in which we can drive collaboration across generations, learn from the past to navigate the future. This collaboration runs much wider than this – companies who can really drive innovative collaboration outside of their own four walls will be best positioned to mature and accelerate their program lifecycle. Today there are many catapult facilities like the AMRC, the NCC and others, significant educational/academic and industry led campuses which allow organizations to inform and access latest processes and drive the next generation of workforce. At Dassault Systemes we have our own facilities in Wichita State University and also the ZAL facility in Hamburg.

Manufacturing in the Industrial Renaissance

It is clear that today, companies can more rapidly integrate new technologies like additive manufacturing and robotics into production while transforming their innovation process, by leveraging virtual environments, digital continuity, and simulation. However, in order to overcome the challenge of flexible rate. Companies must focus on the Integration of design with Manufacturing, commit to enhanced automation in manufacturing, build a plan which allows for the co-existence of robots and people in the digital factory. Factories will need to be not only perpetually optimized but also optimizing, driving in context decisions from predictive analytics. My feeling is that in simple terms those who can integrate Process planning and production planning and who can Leverage the latest disruptive technologies like robotics, additive manufacturing, reverse engineering, composites and virtual reality, will be those leading the way into the new age of industrial renaissance.

Aerospace is no longer simply designing an airframe with a box, our world is now about MECHATRONICS, a system of a systems covering a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering, control engineering and more. What that increasingly means for us at Dassault Systems is that we focus on delivering technology as an enabler to provide experiences to our customers and ultimately to their customers.

Our Vice Chairman and CEO Bernard Charles recently stated that “We are at the turning point of the industrial era, where we are shattering another industry paradigm. The parallel exchange of data between virtual and real operations will transform the value-adding chain into a value creation chain. The entire ‘extended’ enterprise can continuously measure and control business processes for maximum efficiency and potential top line growth. This is ‘Business in the Age of Experience. I personally believe that this is true in Aerospace more than in any other Industry.

Learn more about the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

We look forward meeting you at the Farnborough International Airshow 2018 in July. Learn how to Increase win rates through optimized concepts and mass customization. Please request an invitation here.

Ronnie Copeland, an experienced Senior Sales Leader, is currently Senior Manager of Sales at Dassault Systemes in the UK. 

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