4 Ways the Aerospace & Defense Sector Can Maximize the Rebound: Exclusive Insights

2020 is a vital year for India’s Aerospace & Defense (A&D) sector, providing ample opportunities to leverage digital transformation and push for a competitive advantage on the world stage.

Prior to the pandemic, the sector was witnessing a period of record growth – with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% in civil aviation alone. Now, with international traffic down by almost 90%, airlines would see the loss of passengers amid a restructuring. However, Aerospace & defense sector is still witnessing growth in defense and space segments.

India’s indomitable passion for A&D innovation continues to stay resilient, paving bright spots for the future in space engineering, defense, and the startup landscape. In space, for example, there are possibilities of implementing mega satellites and satellite constellations that will revolutionize the sector in space. Companies can also explore innovative use cases for emerging technologies, such as civic applications for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. In addition, India today is considered as a leader in the application of space technology. INSAT and IRS satellites are providing invaluable services in disaster management and the privatization of the Indian space industry could give the push in right direction for the overall growth of this sector.

Moreover, there is enormous potential and huge opportunities for collaboration and creation of joint ventures in the aerospace sector in India for establishing Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) facilities for civil and military aircraft, overhaul and maintenance of aero engines and production of avionics, components and accessories both in the civil and military aviation sectors. Major global aviation & defense industry leaders are already eyeing the local market in India and making Indian companies become part of their supply chain, as India is fast emerging as a center for engineering and design services.

To realize these opportunities and achieve growth during the rebound, the sector needs digital continuity, next-generation collaboration capabilities, and robust strategic support. Let us turn to four industry experts to examine what lies ahead.

1. Consider a five-fold plan for staying adaptable

To begin with, Dassault Systèmes’ Vice President for the Aerospace & Defense Industry, David ZIEGLER, shares his five imperatives for A&D companies.

First comes passenger comfort and rebuilding passenger confidence [in civil aviation, which saw the most impact]. The second imperative is to drive down costs to ensure survivability and versatility over the long term. The third is to insert sustainable technology, also keeping safety and regulations in mind. The fourth one is about flexible manufacturing, making sure one can adapt to new industrial systems, new rates, and new production methods. Finally, we have to transform the supply chain to make it much more resilient, with the ability to tap into innovation,” says David ZIEGLER. Here are the top 10 challenges that suppliers face today https://ifwe.3ds.com/media/suppliers-challenging-road-ebook?raw

However, he adds, “How many companies have transformed the way they work in space and defense, to address these imperatives for digital transformation?” The intelligent application of technology to transform A&D and create a digital thread can help to fulfill these objectives, accelerating recovery.

2. Implement a digital thread to streamline innovation

A digital thread connects disparate data flows from different stakeholders to enable a holistic view of a product/solution across its end-to-end lifecycle. Lockheed Martin uses the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to enable a digital thread at Skunk Works, which covers Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP). Renee PASMAN, Director Integrated Systems at Skunk Works, explains how this connects different stakeholders on the value chain and removes inefficiency.

“Our progress on instantiating digital thread via the latest technologies platforms like Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE [Platform] has been excellent,” she says.

“It allows us to continue to deliver on the quality and schedule that customers expect from Skunk Works. We are looking at covering the entire product lifecycle in an A&D program, from conceptual design, through modeling and simulation, to all the way sustenance at the end of life. This digital thread initiative gives our workforce the latest tools to make that collaboration easier, to make faster, to be able to bring data in sooner, make better decisions, and see what the impacts of those decisions are.”

3. Simulate in a virtual environment for process optimization

As you can see, digital thread paves the way towards collaborating in a virtual environment.  One of the large Indian PSU, mentioned why collaborating to optimize processes perfectly is so critical right now.

“India is the third-largest domestic market with a compounded annual growth rate of 11%, or more. In recognition of this, the Government of India has operationalized close to 200 airports, and it is estimated that the expenditure by air travelers is going to reach 126 billion by the year 2021. In order to achieve this, we’ll need 2300 aircraft of various types,” speaker said. This is where a virtual environment can help.

Companies can embrace simulation activities by taking advantage of a virtual environment, taking the results forward into project lifecycle management. This encompasses all major disciplines like aerodynamics, propulsion structures, materials, and aspects that affect direct operating costs, like performance, according to this company.

As this company migrated to a more connected landscape, the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform provided different views to different stakeholders, whether it is a project management role or domain experts. “We are able to address the existing cultural gap between a paper-based system and something digital. We can optimize the manufacturing end of things where once the solution has been conceived; it is integrated with our supply chain. All of this in the virtual world!” This has immense implications not only for OEMs but also for startups venturing into disruptive areas.

4. Explore disruptive use cases on an agile model

The digitalization of the A&D value-chain on a next-gen platform can empower startups to actualize disruptive ideas in an agile model. One field where this has proven effective is in UAV or drone development for use cases beyond defense. Abhishek BURMAN, CEO of drone startup, General Aeronautics, mentions that India is on its way to becoming the third-largest UAV market by 2024. One of the key contributing factors is the country’s budding startup ecosystem, and General Aeronautics is one such startup pushing the envelope.

“Agility is a key characteristic of a startup. 3DEXPERIENCE enables cross-disciplinary collaboration models in development, with minimal infrastructure investment best suited for startups. This allows us to optimize time and costs without compromising quality. Our latest product was developed entirely during the lockdown, which would not have been possible using traditional means,” he says. During the COVID-19 emergency, General Aeronautics initiated 125+ takeoffs in Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar, spraying more than 2,25,000 square meters to combat the outbreak.

These insights were originally presented by our experts and esteemed guests at the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum 2020. Detailed Session videos will be available soon. Stay tuned!