Just this week, two announcements have come across the desk of Supply Chain Matters, each involving the highly stressed Aerospace industry and each directed at integrating information and insights across product management, manufacturing and broader supply chain areas.
Manufacturing platform software provider Apriso announced that Bombardier Aerospace will standardize on a common Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) platform based on Apriso’s FlexNet manufacturing platform software. The technology will be deployed to support the expanded production for both the CSeries and Lear85 aircraft production across facilities in Canada and Mexico. Both companies were already working on a 20 month effort to support the CSeries program, which will now be expanded to support other Bombardier production facilities. Apriso’s FlexNet provides manufacturing business intelligence for use by ERP, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and other systems. According to a statement by Apriso industry director, Rick Gallisa, Bombardier has embraced a three platform IT strategy consisting of an integrated PLM, ERP and MOM systems landscape.
Separately, product and service lifecycle technology provider PTC announced this week that Eurocopter, a subsidiary of EADS, is expanding the use of PTC technology to enhance overall business performance. The Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a 5.4 billion Euro global helicopter manufacturer with orders for 457 new helicopters for global based customers. There are more than 11,300 Eurocopter aircraft in service among 149 countries. At the corporate level, the EADS parent company has outlined a goal of increasing service revenues to 25 percent of total revenues by 2020.
The EADS relationship with PTC dates back to 2008, with the deployment of its PHENIX Master Product Definition platform that harmonized the PLM environment across the company, followed by a Spares Configuration Data Management (SCDM) system to manage spare parts across a global service network. This newest agreement is described as an expansion of the relationship into the emerging area of Service Lifecycle management (SLM). Readers may recall that PTC recently acquired MCA Solutions, which we believe we form the future basis of SLM enhanced offerings for PTC.
In our 2013 Predictions for Global Supply Chains, Supply Chain Matters predicted both increased business turbulence for the Aerospace industry in 2013 as it deals with a combination of huge order backlogs, the need to dramatically ramp-up supply chain production levels, while managing a new business model of pay by operating performance. A separate prediction outlined a broader umbrella of accountability for supply chain management teams that would extend into the areas of product management, manufacturing operations, after-market service and customer services. Two separate technology investment decisions coming in the same week involving two aerospace industry players would tend to indicate some pent-up demand for leveraging advanced technology to support these more aggressive business goals.
We will certainly keep our eye on the further developments.
Supply Chain Matters readers will note that we are experiencing some temporary technical difficulties related to the Menu structures appearing on the Blog’s top panel. A recent WordPress upgrade over the weekend caused these difficulties and we are working to resolve these issues.
Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor
We at Supply Chain Matters really did not want to follow-up so soon on our recent commentaries related to the ongoing shake-out and component failure issues related to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, but alas, they unfortunately continue.
The implications also continue.
Yesterday, a 787 Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines caught fire while on the ground at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Fortunately, all passengers had deplaned from a 13 hour nonstop flight from Tokyo, while ground crews were making preparations for a return flight. The fire was traced to the aft electrical equipment bay and was believed to originate in the aircraft’s auxiliary power system, where a lithium ion battery later exploded, causing a secondary fire. The batteries housed in the APS makeup the aircraft’s emergency power system and also serve to start-up auxiliary power systems when the aircraft is on the ground. Fire crews reported a heavy smoke condition upon arrival. CNN’s coverage (video included) quotes a vise president with the Flight Safety Foundation as noting that the fire was an extremely serious situation.
The National Transportation Safety Board along with Boeing and JAL, have immediately dispatched teams to investigate this incident. The subject aircraft remains grounded and speculation abounds as to whether safety authorities will call for more directives regarding the 787.
In its reporting, The Wall Street Journal noted that the subject aircraft was part of the group of 7 Dreamliners delivered during a 25 hour period in late December, and was delivered to JAL on December 20.
Business and general media have been quick to now begin to relate all the previous component failure incidents related to the 787 dating back to the 2010 fire caused on a test flight. Since Supply Chain Matters resides in Greater Boston area, we were able to take-in local media coverage of this incident. Many local stations hyped the increased history of incidents, especially with an aircraft as new as it is, and questioned whether the aircraft was really safe to fly. Needless to state, that does not result in a good perception for the flying public to have regarding any new aircraft.
While it is common for any new aircraft model to have some initial issues, the troubling aspect for the 787 is the variety of different problems, which have included incidents of fuel leaks, engine component failures and multiple issues related to the aircraft’s critical electrical systems. Four recently delivered 787 aircraft have incurred electrical failures including the failure of a generating unit and problems with the electrical panel. In early December, a new 787 delivered to United Airlines, flying an operational route, had to make an emergency landing because of an electrical generator failure. Another United 787 delivered in October had to be literally taken out of service in order to replace suspected power panel and generator concerns. In July, both Rolls Royce and GE Aircraft engine types supplied with this aircraft had separate incidents of engine faults. Many of these issues seem to point toward component, manufacturing or assembly issues sometime along the way.
In our view, Boeing needs to stop the ongoing public statements indicating that the recent histories of incidents relative to the 787 are normal course of events for a newly delivered aircraft. Instead, we need to hear what proactive measures are being taken to insure that all of these incidents are thoroughly and speedily investigated and what remediation efforts will be taken.
Component suppliers and members of the 787 global supply chain will have to anticipate further scrutiny of processes and methods until all of these issues are resolved.