Production technology examples: Shaving costs, improving efficiency

While there are a range of technological advancements gaining favor in manufacturing production, a handful seem to be especially well-suited to the A&D sector. Examples include:

3D printing (or additive manufacturing). This spring, Boeing announced plans to use 3D printing technology to produce structural titanium parts for its 787 Dreamliner. If ultimately approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Washington-based Boeing said these metal components would be the first produced by 3D printing to be used on an external airframe. Since these parts would not be forged or machined using traditional systems, the airline estimates it could save up to $3 million in production costs for each Dreamliner it builds.3

Smart factories. In much the same way that smartphone technology enabled everyday people to communicate, connect and collaborate via a handheld device, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making it possible for A&D companies to create a connected production environment. For example, at GE Aviation’s new “Brilliant” plant in Michigan, IoT connectivity allows the company to harmonize all key manufacturing systems – including design, engineering, production line, supply chain and distribution – into a single connected unit. This “big data” analysis and monitoring approach has helped GE cut unscheduled production downtime by 20 percent, while also improving reliability of manufactured products.4

Cloud computing and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Applications running on the cloud offer a host of advantages in A&D production, ranging from virtually unlimited simulation capacity for product design or testing to access to more robust security protections against cyber intrusions. Additionally, the A&D industry has more aggressively embraced ERP tools to create efficiencies in their manufacturing processes, cut waste, improve quality and gain better insight into their overall business and key performance indicators (KPIs). In fact, an industry study showed that the use of ERP tools by A&D companies helped drive a 40 percent jump in capital and labor productivity over the past 15 years. That’s well above the estimated 10 percent improvement for the overall American manufacturing sector.5

Using Technology to Improve A&D Production and Process Efficiencies

Building the right foundation for production technology enhancements

Pay special attention to the digital platform

July 10, 2017



3) “3D Printing Titanium Parts Could Save Boeing Millions of Dreamliner Production,” (April 11, 2017) Fortune

4) “New Technologies Help GE Realize Smarter Factories,” (May 12, 2017) AviationWeek

5) Leonard, J., “U.S. Aerospace Industry: Flying High, Soaring Higher,” (January 31, 2017) Industry Week