1. Digitalization - The smart path to supplier development and program success
4 min read

Digitalization - The smart path to supplier development and program success

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) today continue to shift the development and manufacturing of specific components to their suppliers. This change is necessary to meet growing demand for thousands of next generation aircraft in the coming decades. With the change, aerospace suppliers have more control, but also share responsibility with their OEM customers for program success.

Every supplier—regardless of its size—plays a critical role in a program’s success. A hiccup - even at the lowest levels of the global supply chain - can create major disruptions in the flow of essential parts and materials. Supplier development programs generate new capabilities or competencies to support performance improvements. Either a solo program or in partnership with an OEM, supplier development can generate a competitive advantage. Digitalization offers suppliers the ability to streamline processes, align with OEM customers, and improve performance and responsiveness.

How will suppliers meet the challenge? Not with legacy computer systems and incremental improvements says Airbus executive, Jean-Brice Dumont.

“We have a very strong market, and the whole supply chain needs to be much more digital to work together to reduce lead times and speed up the entire process of building airplanes”

Jean-Brice Dumont
Executive Vice President of Engineering, Airbus Commercial Aircraft

Optimize collaboration, minimize issues

Better collaboration between suppliers and their OEM customer(s) minimizes issues and increases performance. To implement improved collaboration, suppliers must first resolve two primary hurdles:

  • Secure valuable data and competitive cost models
  • Optimize data management

By digitalizing product development suppliers with have the ability to eliminate poor data management practices and secure sensitive data. Shifting to a digital product model on a product innovation platform significantly improves collaboration across the enterprise. By leveraging one definition of engineering parts and bill of material (BOM), multiple design disciplines can publish data into a consolidated engineering BOM. Using one common change process provides visibility for all stakeholders, standardization of change management, and more. This results in fewer BOM errors, less rework and more time for innovation.

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Supplier Development > Aerospace & Defense > Dassault Systèmes®
View Infographic
Supplier Development > Aerospace & Defense > Dassault Systèmes®
Reducing Non-Value Added Work in Engineering Infographic

Accelerate development with simulation

Multi-physics simulation and high-performance computing (HPC) offers the ability to explore and optimize real-world behavior of products. For aerospace suppliers, simulation accelerates the process of evaluating the performance, reliability, and safety of materials and products before committing to physical prototypes.  

Leveraging simulation early in the design phase can accelerate development time, lower the cost of physical testing, and lessen the risks in meeting certification requirements. Additional benefits include:

  • Structural analyses with multiple levels of model fidelity
  • Multi-disciplinary trade-off analyses to optimize a design across a range of requirements.
  • Advanced aerodynamic capabilities to expand computational fluid dynamics (CFD) usage to explore the entire flight envelope, reducing costly wind tunnel testing.
  • Preliminary digital noise certification via simulation of new aircraft design noise levels

Suppliers using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud can provide engineers access to multi-physics simulation and HPC simulation a few days. 

Aircraft Community Noise Simulation
Engineers perform noise assessment of the virtual aircraft using the highest geometric fidelity to include all potential noise sources.

Drive manufacturing excellence with visual process planning

Digital continuity in manufacturing provides a shared digital landscape connecting all stakeholders to improve visibility into, control over and synchronization across manufacturing operations and supply chain processes on a global scale. A critical aspect of every digitalization strategy is the move to using a virtual build in planning. A virtual build allows suppliers to replace high-cost physical mock-ups with the virtual prototyping. Besides delivering a substantial saving in prototyping costs, this eliminates wait times that prolong the product cycle. Engineering changes take place rapidly in a "virtual space" instead of a physical prototype. Very flexible and easily duplicated and modified, virtual models serve multiple use cases. 

Suppliers take process planning to the next level by equipping their manufacturing planners with the right visual process planning tools. Visual process planning supports supplier development objectives to increase productivity, reduce overall costs, improve product quality, and accelerate time-to-market. 

Manufacturing planners working in a visual environment can easily identify and correct potential production problems early in the process. By leveraging 3D CAD models (including spreadsheet process plans converted into 3D process models) they can be shared across the enterprise. Virtual build provides manufacturing planners the tools to:

  • Visualize the assembly sequence
  • Validate build specifications to conform to product design
  • Develop easy-to-understand graphic work instructions for the shop floor
How visualization transforms process planning
Virtual Environment for Manufacturing Processes with DELMIA Virtual Build

Certifying aerospace composites

The composites value chain is evolving. Composites designers must assess feasibility early in the process, and create seamless interaction with shop floor systems. In addition, certification of composite structures requires component and sometimes full-vehicle testing, which is expensive and time-consuming. If testing is performed too late in the design cycle it cannot have meaningful impact on the design. Analysis capabilities have sufficiently advanced to allow simulation to be used to influence design earlier in the development cycle.

Using the right advanced simulation tools in composites can improve the design, increase the value of testing and significantly reduce the amount and scale of physical testing required. Evolve your composites simulation methodologies to deliver more accurate results and meet regulatory demands.

Real-world success stories in Aerospace & Defense

Three suppliers reveal how the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform improves their business.