Farnborough Air Show

Aerospace Tapping Benefits Of Product Lifecycle Management

 - July 13, 2014, 7:00 AM

Most aerospace and defense executives think their companies would improve their ability to collaborate with suppliers in engineering and manufacturing design by making more use of product lifecycle management (PLM) processes, but few of them believe their companies are making significant progress in this regard. This was the main conclusion of a new survey on product engineering and manufacturing published ahead of the Farnborough International Airshow by Accenture (Chalet J/1). The survey found that 79 percent of executives accepted the case for improving performance through the application of PLM but only 21 percent rated their own companies as “good” at design collaboration with suppliers using these processes.

“The survey results are unsurprising,” said John Schmidt, managing director of Accenture’s North American Aerospace and Defense business. “The need for the industry to move data through the supply chain quickly is increasing and it will continue to increase. There is still much to do and it’s all about getting data into the hands of the assembly and support people.”

The management consulting, systems integration and outsourcing group assists companies in implementing PLM, which helps them to handle more cost effectively all the processes in developing a product from its original concept to its retirement, including engineering, supply chain management, manufacturing, services and marketing. The Accenture survey found that the PLM-related challenges most commonly reported for engineering and design functions were the absence of a single system of recordkeeping (45 percent of respondents) and the lack of integration between different engineering functions (39 percent).

The survey of aerospace and defense executives from companies that generate more than half of all industry revenues concluded that 84 percent could improve their business performance by boosting collaboration between their services and design engineering divisions. Respondents also indicated that while more than four fifths of their manufacturing functions have access to PLM data, 90 percent want more or better information than they have today.

Accenture also assists companies with activities such as engineering documentation and electronic shop-floor work instructions, as well as managing supply chain sourcing, components outsourcing, customer support functions and human resources management. “We help them with strategy on establishing where they are in the market and how they can improve their operations through people and technology changes,” Schmidt told AIN.


This kind of strategy is becoming very important. This is especially true given the supplier problems Boeing continues to have with the 787 program. Also, considering the recent fuselage derailment, there is going to have to be better logistics planning between the manufacturers and their suppliers.

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