To successfully manage aerospace supply chain networks, it is essential to tackle special challenges. Efficient processes in complex, international networks require thinking that spans departmental and even corporate boundaries in customer/supplier relationships.
This begins with the organization of networks and extends to the planning and execution of processes on through to controlling.
Expectations are high when it comes to the digitalization of the supply chain: better transparency overall, data security, more flexible organization, smart and faster processes, lower costs, extensive standardization, and optimization of delivery stocks. A study conducted by Stegkemper GmbH in May 2016 in cooperation with SupplyOn AG and the SCE-Initiative* clearly shows: It is increasingly difficult to remain competitive without digitalizing complex supply chains. Most companies are aware of that. Although the steps necessary to create a digitalized supply chain are known, implementation is often still a problem.
New study on the aerospace supply chain
60 companies of varying sizes – mostly small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 1,000 employees and headquartered in Germany – took part in the study “Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” This study sheds light on the current status and future challenges regarding the digitalization of the supply chain.
Initial results have been presented at this year’s ILA in Berlin in June:
- Digitalization of the supply chain is on the advance. However, there is still considerable potential to be leveraged, since just one-quarter (26%) of companies have extensively digitized their inbound and outbound supply chain.
- In response to the question “What has to change to drive digitalization further?”, data security is one of the concerns. In addition, 80 percent of those surveyed are hoping for industry-wide, standardized solutions in this regard.
- In response to the question “Where does the focus regarding company-specific challenges lie?”, 97% of those surveyed agree with the statement that the requirements for quality and timeliness regarding information flow will increase in the next five years.
- All those surveyed believe that close networking with customers is an effective means of tackling the complex challenges. An essential prerequisite for this is further digitalization of the supply chain and industry-wide use of a common supply chain platform.
An analysis of the free-text responses also revealed very clear focal points, such as
- Strong demand for standards: for tools, data, processes, IT interfaces and data security
- Attention to “soft” factors – from the desire to cooperate to the need to learn
- A balanced cost/benefit ratio is also wanted
- Limitations in the digitalization of complex contents and processes (quality, negotiations, etc.)
- Planning problems in complex supply chains
Outlook and recommendation based on the first analysis of the aerospace supply chain study
As the study clearly shows, comprehensive digitalization of the supply chain is possible only with innovative, standardized processes and IT collaboration tools. And framework conditions and concrete solution approaches need to be defined.
Companies, associations and policymakers must contribute equally. The Supply Chain Excellence (SCE)* initiative and the common desire to cooperate more strongly can contribute significantly – so as to bolster the global competitiveness of the German aerospace industry.
* The SCE initiative’s objective is to support companies in the aviation supply industry in the face of structural change and in particular to enhance the global competitive position of Germany as an aerospace location.