From the Community
March 27, 2019

Aerospace supply chains in times of digital change

Matching themes: Aerospace, Digital Supply Chain

Visions of a supply chain ecosystem, requirements for securing the future viability of aerospace SMEs, impacts of Brexit: The broad range of digitization topics provided numerous insights for the SCE symposium participants.
Visions of a supply chain ecosystem, requirements for securing the future viability of aerospace SMEs, impacts of Brexit: The broad range of digitization topics provided numerous insights for the SCE symposium participants.

Great interest for an exciting topic: The SCE symposium “Digitization in Aviation”, jointly organized by the Bavarian Aerospace Cluster BavAIRia and SPACE, was filled to capacity with around 100 participants. Dietmar Czaia of GKN Aerospace Deutschland was the courteous host of the event on 21 March 2019. 

GKN Aerospace provides insights into its digitization

For GKN Aerospace Germany, digitization is an issue of great importance. Managing Director Dietmar Czaia and Development and Quality Manager Andreas Herkner presented how this is practiced at the medium-sized Tier 1 with a turnover of approx. EUR 100 million, 500 employees and a production area of approx. 42,000 sqm. High flexibility for customer-specific workflows is achieved by connecting data, for example within the framework of the electronic running card.

According to GKN, the company ist the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier (pictures: Airbus A350-1000, hydrophobic coating © GKN Aerospace)
According to GKN, the company ist the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier (pictures: Airbus A350-1000, hydrophobic coating © GKN Aerospace).

GKN is particularly proud of the ultrasonic testing of highly complex composite materials by robots. During a factory tour, the participants gained first-hand insights into how GKN Aerospace Deutschland produces extremely resilient composite materials, e.g. for wings and landing flaps, using a sophisticated layer model and large autoclave furnaces. Quality assurance is carried out using robot-controlled, ultra-modern ultrasonic testing.

Aerospace Community news and trends

One highlight certainly was the first time attendance of Boeing at a SPACE event – an absolute novelty, thanks to the great openness to closer collaboration on all sides.

A series of high-quality presentations highlighted trend topics in aviation. Henrik Haarmann who spoke for Airbus’ “Digital Transformation” division was first. Based on today’s established standards such as AirSupply, he glanced into the future. His vision: A 100% digitally integrated supply chain ecosystem. Its core elements include a powerful analytics platform providing comprehensive information integration, also for airlines, and an agile approach.

Dr. Stephan Baur of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants held a keynote lecture full of facts to show German aviation SMEs whether they are future-proof in terms of their competencies, company size and digital capabilities. He also discussed the current insourcing trend among aerospace OEMs, which enables them regain expertise inhouse in order to better differentiate from their competitors in competition-critical areas of expertise such as aerodynamics.

Anne Carrere and Anaïs Malbeth from BoostAeroSpace, the European industry initiative for process and data standardization, presented the company’s new products AirConnect and AirCyber.

AirSupply as an early warning system: Transparency also for customs clearance

At the end of the event, the author of this article presented the challenges of digitizing global supply chains based on megatrends. A SCE/SPACE study on digitization of 2018 revealed that German aerospace SMEs are well aware of how important digitization is, but action needs to be taken to implement it. Another topic of the lecture: How market uncertainties such as Brexit affect the competitiveness of the European aerospace supply chain. And how customers like Airbus address this in AirSupply, for example on customs issues. An excursus also dealt with basic risk mitigation approaches in order to keep the harmful effects of Brexit on the supply chain as minimal as possible.

Conclusion

Norbert Schröder departed from the SPACE board
Norbert Schröder departed from the SPACE board

The day offered not only highly interesting insights behind the scenes of GKN Aerospace and insight into project work and growth of the SPACE community, but also excellent networking opportunities in the industry. It was a worthy setting for the farewell of Norbert Schröder and Heino Ostermeier from the SPACE Board. Both did a great job to prepare SPACE for the future of the German aviation industry. They have successfully handed over the baton to Ela Rabe and Bernd Schröder.

arvid

Arvid Holzwarth

Manager Consulting Aerospace

As Manager Consulting, I am committed to provide the very best service possible to our existing aerospace customer base. Our customers should not just get good support with their existing projects. Our goal is to also support them with excellent assistance for the new challenges which they face, in order to get the problems resolved. In addition to using social media with state-of-the-art communications technology, I put emphasis on maintaining personal relationships with my business partners – during trade fairs, meetings with customers and visits to their company locations. In my blog, I focus primarily on aerospace trade fairs and meetings with customers.

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