A commercial jet aircraft has millions of individual parts and a supply chain that covers multiple tiers, from raw materials to the finished product.
It’s the supply chain that can be spread across numerous companies globally, specialising in different parts and components. To complicate things further, each component might be part of a subset that is being developed by a different supplier, and so compatibility issues between parts may surface.
With such a complex supply chain it’s easy for things to wrong, especially when you consider the thousands of people who might be involved in the development of a new aircraft.
By using a software package that improves communication, eliminates design and development errors, speeds up time to market and reduces costs along the way, managing the supply chain becomes much more efficient.
Paying attention to the careful design and material selection guidelines in the design and manufacturing of composites is vital to ensuring structural integrity of parts. Without adherence to guidelines in designing composites, this can lead to the development of poor-quality parts, which isn’t going to help anyone.
This is extremely important as the benefits of strong composite designs include the production of lightweight, impact resistant and strong parts compared to standard metal products. Ultimately, this leads to the manufacturing of better quality parts for a better-quality product, especially when these parts will be used in aircraft where safety protocols are extremely stringent.
The production of better-quality parts is also important due to Governmental crackdowns on carbon emissions, particularly for aircrafts. But with composite design, the reduction in fuel costs and carbon emissions based on the production of lightweight structures helps to adhere to Governmental pressures.
The current issue over the recent crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has uncovered many issues over the design, certification and operation of this new aircraft.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever sat down and asked yourself ‘what can we do to improve our product quality?’ but struggled to find the most cost-effective way to do this.
As the complexity of product designs increases, so too does the need to find the right materials and techniques to bring these designs to life. This is where composite materials come into their own.
Here’s how your organisation can benefit from the use of composite materials and how the aerospace and automotive industries are making strides in the use of composites.
As consumers around the world are demanding greater access to air travel, this has led to orders for 38,000 new aircraft. Although this represents the potential for significant revenue, OEMs and suppliers face significant risks that they must overcome in order to develop these aircraft cost effectively and ensure a quick time to market.
A major trigger of these risks is how OEMs are now tasking suppliers with designing aerospace parts in addition to manufacturing.
The use of FEA to design ‘optimal’ components has been around for nearly two decades. In general terms it works by meshing an available volume for a part and then eating away at the space iteratively to leave just those bits of the mesh that are doing work while aiming at a target mass for the part, as in the examples below.
Using this method ‘raw’ it is easy to see how un-manufacturable designs can result, so much effort has been invested by software developers to place manufacturing constraints on the optimisation process to, for example, eliminate voids or undercuts in moulded parts.
Producing 38,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years is a big ask. The amount of time and effort that goes into producing a single aircraft is high enough, so when we think of producing another 37,999, the pressure mounts.
That's why OEMs and suppliers need to be on top form when it comes to aircraft production. Unless the activities of suppliers and OEMs are managed properly, the delivery of these new aircraft may be significantly delayed.
Designing and manufacturing aerospace parts is complicated enough without having to worry about the structural integrity of parts. This is where the use of composite materials can take some of the pressure off.
Composite materials enable the production of lightweight, impact resistant parts compared to alternative metals. This allows OEMs to produce higher quality parts, which is particularly important for aircraft when we consider safety protocols.
Irrespective of size, all organizations across the aerospace supply chain face risks. Yet many organizations don’t have a systematic strategy in place to respond to risks.
That’s why Aerospace supply chain partners need to implement a system of risk management, reducing the chances risks will negatively impact the organization’s bottom line.
One of the main reasons for moving manufacturing overseas has been to reduce costs. But today many OEMs are re-shoring the supply chain as going overseas no longer affords the costs advantages it used to.
For example, many companies used to benefit from off-shoring their manufacturing to China due to the low cost of labour. But increasing wages in China are prompting many businesses to bring manufacturing closer to home.
But it’s not only increasing wages pushing manufacturers to re-shore the supply chain. Re-shoring creates jobs and helps to boost the local economy. For example, Boeing are expanding their operations in St. Louis to develop parts for the Boeing 777X, beginning in 2017.