23 August 2023

Top 6 Aerospace Manufacturing Challenges Solved by PLM-ERP Integration

Challenges of aerospace manufacturing industry solved by PLM-ERP integration

The aerospace manufacturing industry is constantly evolving. First, the COVID-19 pandemic grounded air travel, followed by a changing global geopolitical landscape, and climate change has led aerospace manufacturers to grapple with multiple challenges at once.

However, a few primary challenges remain unchanged, such as supply chain issues and lack of visibility. With the advent of newer challenges, not resolving the elementary problems within aerospace manufacturing operations can put the manufacturers at a significant setback.

With over 18 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, we have helped multiple global manufacturers address industry-specific challenges with our PLM-ERP integration for Dynamics 365.

This article shares the key challenges of the aerospace manufacturing industry and how integrating PLM and ERP can help simplify these challenges.

What are the key challenges of aerospace manufacturers?

Although the aerospace manufacturing industry has many challenges, we discuss the top 6 challenges that can be quickly addressed by integrating PLM and ERP systems.

Challenge 1: Supply chain disruption

The aerospace industry relies on a complex global supply chain with multiple suppliers and subcontractors providing various components and systems. This has become further complicated with the diversification of suppliers seen as a growing trend in the aerospace manufacturing industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aerospace manufacturers are now looking at tens of thousands of suppliers to avoid concentration risk. An increase in the number of suppliers increases the chances of supply chain disruptions, with each disruption causing substantial financial loss.

How PLM-ERP integration helps

PLM ERP integration enables seamless communication and data sharing between the manufacturing organization and its suppliers. It offers visibility into supply chain activities, streamlines procurement processes, improves inventory management, and enhances coordination by synchronizing data between PLM and ERP systems.

You can easily avoid supply chain delays, reduce lead times, and manage supplier relationships, resulting in a smooth supply chain.

Challenge 2: Real-time visibility

Aerospace manufacturers have multiple moving parts – suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors, at any given time, making it challenging to have clear visibility across stakeholders. Incomplete visibility of the entire operations, from design to sale, creates a chain of problems.

A lack of transparency makes it difficult to plan for disruption, which could cause the aerospace manufacturing industry to be penalized. In fact, there is rising pressure on manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing to pay penalties for late deliveries.

How PLM-ERP integration helps

Integrating PLM and ERP systems provides real-time visibility into manufacturing operations, resource utilization, and project status. Increased visibility enables better tracking, planning, and decision-making, allowing aerospace manufacturers to identify bottlenecks, adjust processes, and make strategic decisions.

Challenge 3: Cybersecurity and intellectual property

Cybersecurity is a threat that cannot be ignored in the aerospace manufacturing industry. Containing a vast amount of high-value data and digital assets makes them vulnerable to hackers, who target every level of the manufacturing supply chain.

The aerospace industry also invests significant resources in research and development. Protecting intellectual property from theft, infringement, or unauthorized use is a critical challenge, particularly in a globalized and interconnected industry.

How PLM-ERP integration helps

Connecting PLM and ERP systems through a cloud-based integration ensures all your product data is well documented. With well-connected systems in place, product documents and IPs can be tracked and retrieved easily.

Having the integration on the cloud would mean cloud-level security for all data exchanges. This helps maintain digital security across a complex supply chain.

Challenge 4: Shortages and economic uncertainty

The aerospace industry faces market fluctuations based on economic conditions, geopolitical factors, and changing customer demands. Rapid variations in demand dictated by the global geopolitical state have made aerospace manufacturing companies unable to meet customer demand.

Boeing is reportedly facing parts shortages which is hampering plane production. Due to this, Southwest Airlines expects to receive only 70 new 737 MAX planes rather than the previously planned 90 planes. With an unstable and unpredictable inventory and supply chain, the entire industry faces an impact due to the interconnection among the challenges.

How PLM-ERP integration helps

By integrating PLM and ERP systems, aerospace manufacturers can better forecast demand and optimize inventory levels, reducing the risk of inventory shortages. The integration breaks down data silos by enabling a seamless transfer of information between the PLM and ERP databases, eliminating duplicate data entry, and improving data consistency.

With a centralized system for collecting and managing product, engineering, and manufacturing data, you can choose to analyze it and gain valuable insights that can be used to take proactive measures in case of a shortage.

Challenge 5: Always ensure impeccable quality

Aerospace manufacturers have strict liability and must maintain quality to the highest grade. Crashworthiness, manufacturing, and designing — all the components must be taken care of with extreme vigilance. Even the most minute defective design or aviation manufacturing defect can be dangerous to deploy in the aircraft and could lead to crashes resulting in costly lawsuits and severe business damage.

Springer Aerospace Technology stated that aerospace defects during in-service mainly occur because of inadequate material specification, further highlighting the significance of a good communication channel between the engineering and manufacturing teams.

How PLM-ERP integration helps

Several elements are responsible for assuring the quality of each component in the aerospace manufacturing process. While implementing state-of-the-art Structural Health Monitoring, damage detection systems, and IoT is essential, the more fundamental aspects of damage prevention can be achieved with well-integrated PLM and ERP systems.

The integration automates the transfer of product data, BOMs, and drawings from PLM to ERP and validates the data with quality checks, reducing the chances of human errors. It also manages engineering and design changes allowing you to keep track of any updates and enables all teams to have the latest version of the aviation component.

Challenge 6: Controlling costs

Aerospace manufacturing involves high costs due to aircraft and spacecraft production's complex and specialized nature. Dealing with highly intricate products that require long development cycles and are manufactured in low volumes, aerospace manufacturers must identify opportunities for cost reduction to remain competitive.

It is challenging to deliver a product that meets all the technical and performance requirements at cost and is on schedule. The industry must consider multiple parameters to manage costs effectively, including raw materials, labor, and technology investments. Reducing costs can become increasingly challenging if the costing data isn't consolidated in one location.

How PLM-ERP integration helps

PLM-ERP integration allows seamless integration of financial data with product development and manufacturing processes. It enables cost tracking, budgeting, and financial analysis across the product lifecycle. This integration helps improve cost control, profitability analysis, and financial planning, which allows manufacturers to make informed decisions.

A fully integrated system will help to establish a single master source of all data that can be used to define the complex aerospace platforms and synchronize a global virtual network of designers, developers, manufacturing engineers, production specialists, and support teams. The integration solution can also support analytics and reporting capabilities, enabling manufacturers to make data-driven decisions, identify bottlenecks, and optimize processes.

Do you want to address critical challenges in your aerospace manufacturing business?

Integrating your PLM and ERP is an excellent way to start addressing all the above-discussed challenges. As a manufacturer in the aerospace manufacturing industry, you will gain multiple benefits with a PLM-ERP integration solution. This integration can help streamline operations, improve collaboration, enhance data management, ensure compliance, and maintain high-quality standards throughout the product lifecycle.

If you are interested in investing in an intuitive, easy-to-use integration solution for Dynamics 365, you can explore our PLM-ERP integration solution.

We provide out-of-the-box PLM integrations for Siemens Teamcenter and PTC Windchill and a configurable PLM integration framework for other PLM, PDM, or CAD systems.

To know more about our PLM-ERP integration solution's benefits, features, and offerings, check out the solution factsheet below.

Streamline your aerospace manufacturing operations with our PLM-ERP integration solution. 

Ken Dolbey
Ken Dolbey,
Ken Dolbey,
Product Manager, Manufacturing

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