3 Must-Answer Questions from Last Week's A&D Digital Thread Webcast

A&DOn December 11, LNS Research and Manufacturing.net hosted a webinar entitled: "Weaving the Digital Thread in Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing: Strategies for Connecting to the Customer Experience." Throughout the course of the event, we had a number of questions from attendees. As is typically the case, though, we were unable to get to all of them. In this post, we'll reexamine these questions and provide answers to a few that went unaddressed.

For those who were unable to attend the webcast live, the event featured two other panel speakers and was a discussion focused on how A&D manufacturers and suppliers are leveraging new technology solutions to connect areas of the value chain for quicker, more accurate, and more actionable information to better meet the unparalleled demands of this industry sector. With great anecdotal experiences from an A&D professional and research data based on over 500 responses to our survey, the webcast dove into:

  • The top goals and challenges A&D companies face today
  • Trends around adoption, use, and benefits of technologies like Cloud, Mobile, and Big Data
  • The criticality of achieving quick and demonstrable ROI for improvements in the A&D industries
  • Benchmark data on A&D KPIs
  • Recommended actions

For those who missed the live event, the full on-demand recording of the webcast can be accessed here.

Q. How do you ensure adoption of these new systems and processes with both management and users? All too often, I see these optimization initiatives fail to reach their full potential due to the lack of appropriate metrics and change management.

A. One of the keys is embracing newer, more modern design and user experience paradigms that incorporate best practices from the consumer market. Most importantly, this involves simplifying and cleansing screens, utilizing mobile devices to the fullest, and building systems around actual work process and how users can provide information rather than building work processes around system architecture and the data needed by the system.

The other important approach occurs upfront in the process, gaining buy-in from all stakeholders, listening to needs, adopting specific requirements where it makes sense, and explaining why certain needs can't be included to benefit the larger good.

Q. As outsourcing has become more accepted, I find the technology used by the service provider is often not integratable with an ERP. Do you support working with integratable software from an outsourcing provider as long as it's scalable to the entire organization?

A. Many companies today have an IT strategy that is stressing the consolidation of applications to one or a few platforms. Often this includes ERP and several others, including: PLM, MES, EQMS, etc. When adopting best of breed solutions it is important to clearly identify the added benefits and costs from not using ERP (reduced licensing and implementation cost, additional capabilities, specific expertise, etc.). Interoperability is often an area that is overlooked and can add additional cost and complication to any system landscape.

Q. I noticed multiple MES and Quality applications on the shopfloor. How has the consolidation to an ERP application gone in this area?

A. For many companies, the MES and Quality landscape is one with many legacy applications that differ by plant. A strategy to harmonize and standardize applications across this space can reduce IT costs and well as improve visibility and decision-making across operations as well as eliminating the "black box" effect that can occur when ERP systems don't reach all the way down to the shop floor. 

The full on-demand webcast recording can be viewed below:

Digital thread in A&D

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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