Aerospace & Defense • March 23, 2020

5 Top Trends in Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing

trends in A&D

As is the case at the start of a new year, research and analyst firms publish findings to help guide investment and strategy direction. The year 2020 is no different. Here is a list of key results from various research findings recently published that were focused specifically on the Aerospace and Defense manufacturing industry. Indicative of the U.S. investment in the Defense industry under the current administration, we are not looking at how to manage shrinking budgets. Instead, a new focus on quality, safety, and improving efficiency appear to have taken center stage.

Here are five key trends that appear poised for significant focus and investment in 2020.

1. Collaboration is Top of Mind

By far the most dominant trend today is how to improve collaboration across complex supplier networks. Often referred to as the value chain, A&D players are wrestling with ever more complex supplier arrangements that span regional and global providers. The need to have backup suppliers that are ready to go at a moment’s notice has elevated to be of far greater importance than how to incrementally shave a few minutes off a process. The potential for disruption is only increasing – even more today, amid a world of the coronavirus.

2. The Need for Speed

The famous movie quote from “Top Gun,” “I feel the need, the need for speed,” applies to the A&D field in many ways. Not only are executives tasked with the drive towards ever-shortening build times – it must be done in parallel with mushrooming marketing demands. Products not only have to be conceived, designed, engineered, built and delivered much faster, but they must also be supported by a snowstorm of effective marketing across all channels. Print, digital, audio, video, TV and constantly shifting social media platforms require Herculean efforts. Everything must be done faster, better and with assured quality. This immediately loops back to the first trend – without the full support of the entire supply chain, missteps are inevitable.

3. The Need for Smarts

The drive to shorten build times is not just about traditional products. The market now demands more rapid delivery of better and smarter tools to then build increasingly smarter products. The latest parts or materials must then be infused with analytics, support preventive maintenance, and be “IoT ready.” This requires an investment to have products work with every type of sensor or other data gathering device aimed at increasing the intelligence of every single component and system, as well as the overall network.

4. Integration of IT and OT

Every executive is concerned with how they can best bring together their business, engineering and operations systems. The days of isolated systems operating as silos must come to an end. The realization is that data trapped in an island has no value, so it is a wasted resource. Any time a system is disconnected from the various facets of an organization, it is directly inhibiting all of the Industry Transformation (IX) trends.
It is no longer acceptable to have to manually rekey data or operate off spreadsheets. Tying together these systems means unifying the long-separate worlds of IT and Operational Technology (OT).

5. The Move to Modular Applications

Continuing on the themes referenced above, the Aerospace and Defense manufacturing industry needs to better collaborate and accelerate time-to-market. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that A&D manufacturers are looking at how to best improve their IT and OT architectures to be more agile. We have seen this push for over a decade – now might be the time when the industry shifts more towards cloud-based deployment and a microservices-based architecture. Anything that can be done to help streamline operations and simplify how applications are implemented and maintained will go a long way to getting the attention of A&D executive leadership.

Right Platform, Right Partners

In summary, the time has come for integrated supply chain networks, rapid-fire development of smarter products and the unification of IT and OT systems. Considering these trends, A&D organizations are advised to take care it the selection of systems, platforms, vendors and supply chain partners. The only effective way to respond to these trends is to eliminate closed systems and favor those who forward the creation of digital ecosystems that foster partnership collaboration communities.
Learn more by reading this article: Here are Five Steps to Building a High-Value Digital Ecosystem for Manufacturing

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