The Return of Demand: How Aerospace & Defense Can Prepare for the Next Normal with Virtual Twins

The Aerospace & Defense (A&D) industry is arguably one that was most immediately and severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. This is especially true in the commercial aircraft segment.

However, as mentioned in a previous post, signs of increasing demand for commercial aviation are on the horizon. Preparing for this will require A&D manufacturers to digitally transform their operations and supply chains in a smart, sustainable and cost-effective way to improve visibility and agility in order to deliver on time, on quality and with less cost—to achieve the ultimate goal of operational resilience. But first, it is prudent to understand the significance of the challenges present today (on top of existing and future disruptions) and the trends leading up to the return of demand.

A lack of data continuity and visibility in manufacturing operations led to the inability of many A&D companies to pivot and make fast and optimal remedial decisions. Although there is increasing digitalization occurring in silos within organizations, these systems were not designed to work in harmony and have their own data models and processes.

Without a strong digital thread across the enterprise and operations, companies have to contend with the complexities of managing disconnected supply chains, which is difficult even in the best of times. On top of that, A&D supply chains are easily impacted by smaller suppliers who struggle in the wake of the pandemic and global shortages of materials.

Many A&D companies are siloed in nature: limited to planning and decision-making separately by organizational disciplines. This leads to the misalignment of internal processes and difficulty leveraging information from one department to the next. This is especially challenging as A&D manufacturers face greater regulatory and certification pressure to ensure that their products are high quality, perfectly functional and safe—and right first time.

Thankfully, there are solutions today that can help A&D companies solve these challenges, for those who are ready to act on them. The accelerating pace of innovation presents manufacturers the opportunity to optimize operations to build resiliency, bounce back more competitive than ever and ultimately ensure the sustainability of their business.

There are three key elements that A&D manufacturers will want to pay close attention to as these will drive future trends:

  • Transforming the supply chain for more visibility and agility to deliver on-time, on quality with less cost.
  • Taking advantage of constrained demand to examine and restructure processes, become leaner and be positioned in a more competitive way.
  • Accelerating technology investments like digital or virtual twins to drive operational efficiency and innovation.

By actively taking these steps and digitalizing your operations, leveraging a virtual digital twin solution, you will be able to visualize the perfect plans for new products, facilities and production processes in order to run optimized operations. The Virtual Twin Experience from Dassault Systèmes can help A&D manufacturers address the immediate need for resilience. Powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the Virtual Twin Experience enables a closed-loop connection between the virtual and real world, employing virtual modeling, simulation and optimization to determine the best configuration without wasting precious time and resources changing real-world operations. What’s more, Virtual Twin Experiences can drive the introduction of new manufacturing models and operational processes to rapidly improve the ability to innovate, in addition to providing these seven competitive advantages for A&D manufacturing:

  • Unlimited simulation
  • Continuous improvement
  • Improved human factors
  • Added agility
  • Global collaboration
  • IIoT integration
  • Knowledge retention

Learn precisely how the Virtual Twin Experience can help you achieve supply chain and operational resilience for your Aerospace & Defense manufacturing operations by downloading our ebook.

Adrian Wood

Director, Strategic Business Development at Dassault Systèmes