Digital Disruption in the Aerospace Industry

Every sector of operation in the current global climate is impacted by digital disruption. The aerospace sector, with a focus on space exploration and its associated technologies is no different from any other sector. With the advances in technology, there are several new technologies that are expected to have a disruptive impact on the space industry, and this is always a characteristic that we want to incorporate into our operational strategies. Automation is something that we want in the 21st Century.

From a maintenance and reliability frame of reference, it is always a great idea to ensure that technologies geared towards advancing the field are incorporated into our operations. One key way to ensure that the aviation industry remains as the forefront of innovation is to ensure that it embraces the automation efforts that exist. Here are a few technologies that are helpful to the advancement of aerospace:

  1. Virtual Reality: With augmented or virtual reality, it will be possible to see and predict unscheduled maintenance events. With virtual reality, you can actually transfer the knowledge to a multitude of persons on the maintenance team who can then take the time to actually service the relevant parts of the vehicle.
  2. Green Aviation: As efforts to enact the efforts of the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), there is a heightened desire to ensure that the industry is making the efforts to meet these requirements. From the recycling efforts of companies like SpaceX, to the airline industry making efforts to reduce its paper trails and optimize fuel efficiency of the engines, there are efforts in place to facilitate these changes to a greener fuel economy. Material science is also making an effort to ensure that with newer technology, the materials associated with these technologies are sturdy and lightweight.
  3. Blockchain: As a wide reaching disruptive technology, blockchain is critical to the advancement of aerospace. As a technology that enables transaction visibility, it is possible to ensure that data interchange is possible. As a decentralized system, blockchain is very secure and will enable information information transfer across the entire supply chain in a more secure manner. With increased accountability and traceability, it will be possible to trace processes much more easily.
  4. Additive Manufacturing / 3D printing: The ability to create 3D printed components will be key to the advancement of aerospace via enabling the manufacture of parts to take place in a timely manner, at a fraction of the cost. If any repairs are to be made, they can be made on the spot. Additional redesign is also possible. Tweaks in material can also be readily tested on location at the small scale. If they work, they can be implemented at the large scale.
  5. Machine Learning: This is a great predictive analytics tool. Historical data can be readily assessed and maintenance schedules prepared.

The tools above are by no means exhaustive, yet they provide a comprehensive guide for the implementation of disruptive technology that can benefit the aerospace industry and allow it to thrive in a time of seeming contraction. The key to all change is to embrace it, and technology enables organizations to be able to tap into their own resources and generate what will feel like new possibilities for them to actually explore. Within the aerospace realm, the ability to navigate from commercial to defense to commercial air is one that I feel that many organizations are actually starting to embrace in our current era. It is important to be versatile in everything that you do as an organization, and allow yourself to grow and expand.

Technology is always changing and organizations that utilize the technology to advance their ability to gather process data, and see how their systems are operating are always the organizations that will benefit in the long run. Striving to ensure that the organization is embracing the Industry 4.0 embedded tools is one way to maintain that much needed competitive advantage. As a moving target, it is important to ensure that the organization is a market leader. With digital disruption always looming, it is always a good idea to utilize it as an ally to organizational success, and via those processes, the ability to make the right executive decisions will arise.

The best organizations in 2020 and beyond, are the ones who learn to adapt to change. Who knows if that new part that your design team 3D prints tomorrow morning, will be what the entire industry is searching for? Allow the team to be creative.