21 February 2020

3min

What is the growth horizon for aerospace?

Civil aeronautics, space and defence are benefiting from a growth phase driven by emerging countries.

DIFFERENT ACTORS FOR DIFFERENT NEEDS

Players in the civil aeronautics market are benefiting fully from this global context, topping sales records in this part of the world despite the fierce competition in certain market segments, even on the part of new competitors. Demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft is at an all-time high.

Defence aeronautics industry players are seeking to penetrate historically protected foreign markets while the European market is stagnating or collapsing due to public expenditure reduction programmes.

As for the space sector, it is experiencing a period of uncertainty: although telecommunications actors currently account for a large proportion of satellite sales, there is no indication that 5G will require new ones. In addition, support from governments (which are the other major space sector customer) is inconsistent across geographical areas, which weakens the European actors.

INCREASE IN THE PACE OF CIVIL ACTIVITY

Increasing production rates, internationalisation and the need for innovation are pushing the aeronautics sector to consolidate, with numerous mergers (i.e. Boeing/Embraer, Airbus/Bombardier C Series, etc.). Manufacturers are encouraging their suppliers to ensure their ability to follow them into new markets, reduce costs through economies of scale and maintain a strong capacity for innovation.

DEFENCE ACTIVITY IN THE FACE OF NEW SERVICES AND NEW CUSTOMER NEEDS

The relationship between states and defence actors is evolving, leading the latter to offer ‘turnkey’ services rather than products. This trend is accompanied by an increasingly strong desire from international customers to benefit from local presence to capture expertise and some of the added value, when they do not simply prefer to develop a local sector.

A NECESSARY TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE TO ACCELERATE INNOVATION FURTHER

Ten technology trends are, to varying degrees, maturing in the broader industry, with actual pilot successes and initial scale ups.

  1. Cybersecurity & Cloud
  2. Big Data & Analytics
  3. Industrial Internet & Connected Objects
  4. Robots & Smart Machines
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. Blockchain
  7. Horizontal and Vertical Digital Integration
  8. Digital Twins & Simulations
  9. Additive Production & Innovative Processes
  10. Augmented Reality

The products and services of the aeronautics/defence sector are fully adapted to exploit the technologies of the Industry of the Future, and the sector is now at the forefront in these areas. BoostAerospace, the aeronautical supply chain platform created by Airbus, Thales, Safran and Dassault, is a good example of digitalisation in the industry.

A key factor in the success of digital projects is the combination and interconnection of several technologies for greater benefit.

A second key factor to success is the implementation of an agile approach based on uses and needs.

SOME EXAMPLES OF NEEDS DESCRIBED WITH THE TECHNOLOGIES IMPLEMENTED:

Reduce development times, cycle times and inventory: Digital twins, additive manufacture

Secure data exchange: Cloud, encryption and cybersecurity

Reduce non-added value tasks and increase productivity: Automatically guided vehicles, digitised instruction sheets, augmented reality

Reducing non-quality: Smart robots, Big Data, augmented reality

Increase the traceability of critical parts and their documents: Industrial Internet, Blockchain

Increase visibility on demand and its variation: Digital integration of customers/suppliers

A NECESSARY COMPLEMENTARITY BETWEEN THE MORE ‘CONVENTIONAL’ LEVERS AND DIGITALISATION LEVERS

The response to the examples of needs listed above involves technology, but also more conventional levers for which the sector’s manufacturers must maintain their efforts. To name a few:

Operational Excellence/Lean to support ramp-ups

Flexibility and agility to adapt to changing customer needs

Redefining business models with a transition to services

Evolution of contractual relations with suppliers to enable them to innovate and follow equipment producers internationally

Management of skills and talents in a context of a lack of attractiveness, in particular digital skills, both technical and behavioural

Risk and certification management, still as important as ever, as the aeronautics news shows

In a global and competitive environment, industry leaders must become innovative suppliers of comprehensive solutions, integrated into their supply chain and flexible in their organisation to adapt to changing customer preferences