Wangermann told FINN that technologies such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), blockchain, Internet of Things, big data and analytics – working individually and together – offer aerospace companies significant opportunities to save money, boost customer satisfaction and more.
Culture and focus
However, while the catalyst for aerospace 4.0 is new technologies, the challenges remain largely analogue.
Wangermann said: “One of the challenges we see is that part of what this technology is [driving] is a change in the way businesses work internally. Traditionally, the technology side of the house – the IT function – has operated at arm’s length to the operations side of the house – engineering, manufacturing, supply chain.
“Whether it’s the industrial Internet of Things or blockchain…they’re forcing a much more collaborative way of working. As well as cultural change, you now need to think in terms of rapid innovation and providing new capabilities in a matter of weeks, if not months, as opposed to the typical year-long technology programmes that many in the industry might be used to.
"So, this requires a change of culture, and therefore often a change in organisation in our clients, in order to enable them to capture the benefits from the range of aerospace 4.0 technologies."
Wangermann added: “One of the things we encourage [our clients] to do is to start outside-in.”
He said this means they need to focus on how they want to change their manufacturing process or business model or customers' experience, for example.
He explained: “Once you've defined outside-in, using principles like design thinking…then that will guide you on how you think about this whole portfolio of technologies that you can exploit in the service of that change. If you don't have that guiding light and know what you want to do with it, you'll get lost in a sea of initiatives that aren't necessarily generating value.”