Digital product lifecycle management (PLM) can take aerospace industry to new heights

Aerospace and defense companies, under intense pressure to contain costs and deliver products to market faster, are finding that legacy product lifecycle management (PLM) systems just don’t fly anymore.

Companies must migrate to digital-driven PLM, which can provide significant benefits at each stage of the process of designing, prototyping, manufacturing, maintaining, and troubleshooting aircraft. Digital PLM can also play a role in retaining existing talent and recruiting new workers.

Digital PLM helps companies break down silos, globalize teams and data, and create a culture for digital-driven innovation and improvement in product development processes.

PLM design and prototyping

It all starts at the concept or idea generation stage. Digital PLM enables engineers to more quickly create mock-ups and share them with their colleagues globally. Another benefit of globalization is the ability to create functional teams based on employee skills and specialties rather than geography.

At the design state, companies need to be able to conduct digital simulations as a way of addressing time-to-market pressures and the cost of testing. But the vast amount of data created and the need to exchange that data among teams is increasing faster than legacy systems can keep up.

Digital-driven PLM provides the high-performance compute environment and remote visualization capabilities so that engineers can take diagrams and run the necessary digital simulations prior to the first prototypes being built.

PLM manufacturing

When it comes to the manufacturing process, the current supply chain is being pushed to the limit. The integration of all layers of the supply chain and the need to quickly move data between manufacturers and suppliers is pivotal.

A key part of digital transformation is making data accessible to global teams either inside or outside the company. One approach is building a global data center that can feed data to locations around the world.  Or companies can go with a cloud-based approach that might offer more flexibility and scalability.

PLM maintenance and troubleshooting

Once an aircraft is sold, the manufacturer continues to be responsible for mechanical or software glitches anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, which requires bringing the right people together to investigate the problem under intense time pressure.

Let’s say a plane lands at Heathrow Airport and is scheduled to take off again two hours later. If the maintenance crew discovers a possible defect in the plane, that team needs to solve the problem in under two hours in order to avoid flight delays, missed SLAs and costly penalties.

Digital PLM allows a company to build multi-function global teams that are on call around-the-clock to tackle situations as they arise.

Today’s airliners need to be faster, more fuel-efficient, more comfortable and more connected than ever before. Customers expect a smooth, safe ride, as well as a digital entertainment center. And aerospace companies need to improve time-to-market and cut costs. Digital PLM is the way to achieve all of these goals.

Chris-Lennon-headshotChris Lennon is Chief Technologist, Aerospace & Defense, Americas for DXC Technology and is responsible for providing strategic guidance and customer oversight for existing and emerging technologies and there use in A&D to improve enterprise business performance.

Nicholas-Holian-headshotNicholas Holian is a DXC Technology Distinguished/Chief Technologist and the lead PLM consultant responsible for PLM and engineering environment integration, focused on developing solutions that enable clients to build a flexible and scalable engineering ecosystem. His more than 17-year career includes management and technical roles encompassing engineering, software and automation development, operating system testing, and quality practices, among others. Nicholas holds several U.S. and foreign patents and has extensive international experience working with and developing teams in EMEA and APJ, Nicholas graduated with honors from Texas A&M University.

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