White Paper: Aerospace

The Future-Proof Factory: Weaving the Digital Thread to Disrupt Aerospace Manufacturing


A digital transformation is underway. Emerging digital technologies promise to bolster aerospace and defense design and manufacturing systems to enable fast, high-volume delivery.

To connect design and manufacturing for maximum benefit, a digital thread must run through the process that provides one ecosystem in which everything exists. This includes the process from model-based systems engineering through to program planning, product design and engineering, verification management, supplier management, intelligent manufacturing and product support.

It is necessary to weave the digital thread to disrupt manufacturing in a way that is timely, cost-effective, and sustainable in relation to trends in aerospace manufacturing. A digital ecosystem that connects people, systems, and data is needed. This connectivity is what creates the intelligent factory capable of driving, not simply keeping up with, advancements in the industry.

Important trends and developments impacting aerospace digital manufacturing include artificial intelligence, automation, simulation, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, additive manufacturing, the cloud, and horizontal/vertical software integration. All of these are either being introduced into existing aerospace and defense programs or are in themselves facilitating the development of new capabilities that will change the way we move into the future.

At a time of unprecedented innovation and ambitious undertakings, systems will need to be produced quicker, more efficiently and be easily customizable in terms of design changes. To meet increased demands on development, digital technologies need to be exploited to ensure the process is as seamless as possible from the initial design phase through to mass production.

While it is an exciting time as these technologies offer new opportunities, their introduction also leads to new challenges. Solutions for intelligent manufacturing are available now to help aerospace and defense companies digitalize production and critically prepare for the future.

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