Pay special attention to the digital platform

There’s no doubt that wired technologies for manufacturing production are expensive to install, difficult to move and costly to repair. With that in mind, savvy IT leaders should consider how robust digital actuators, controllers, scanners, sensors and other devices can help make production operations more nimble and efficient.

For example, Lockheed Martin Space Systems division in Colorado recently deployed an end-to-end “digital tapestry” initiative in its production processes. While the business case is straightforward – using technology to standardize the satellite manufacturing platform – the IT systems and software underlying the process rely heavily on a complex flow of digital data, including design, product simulations, manufacturing, assembly, testing and operational sustainment.6 In short: IT conducts the orchestra, enabling all other relevant business partners to optimize the production symphony in real time.

For small or mid-sized A&D production operations, increased use of digital technologies can help improve efficiencies and reduce costs for a number of production processes. The biggest growth area in this regard may be robotics (or automating labor-intensive processes), where the global aerospace industry is projected to ramp up investment by 250 percent (to $4.54 billion) by 2022.7 However, digital technologies are also very helpful for enabling real-time communications, equipment maintenance, inventory tracking and process monitoring.

Before making any major investments in digital technology, IT leaders may wish to engage a qualified third-party provider to review existing IT systems, gather the requirements for the business in key areas, and create a strategy & plan on how technology can enable the business to accelerate the achievement of these goals. Since digital technologies are reliant on clear wireless transmission, the area must be free of any other signal clutter that could hinder reception. Similarly, certain building materials or physical barriers are not conducive to good wireless transmission, so it’s a smart idea to have advance knowledge of what structure or equipment may pose problems, and whether those barriers can be removed or remediated. As part of that review process, the third-party should also do a careful study of how an enhanced digital platform would integrate with the company’s cloud, ERP and security applications.

Please contact us for more information on technology planning, software evaluation and implementation issues (for NetSuite, Adaptive Insights, and FLODocs) for aerospace or defense industries, or other business accounting issues.

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6) Peterson, E., “Strategy: Lockheed Martin’s Digital Tapestry,” (February 15, 2016) CompanyWeek

7) Roy, C., “Rapid Growth Predicted for the Aerospace Robotics Market,” (January 17, 2017)