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Outlook Achieving Program Success with


High-Fidelity Proposals


As in other industries, companies in the aerospace and defense sector share the pressure of becoming more aggressive on product performance, schedule and cost in order to remain competitive while, at the same time, meeting or exceeding customer expectations. Te challenge lies in developing an aggressive yet low-risk proposal in response to the customer’s request for bid—two characteristics that are seemingly at odds. Te reality is that no-one can predict


the future so accurately as to remove sufficient risk from a proposal prior to project approval and launch. Once the team is built and the program gets off the ground, performance targets and schedules almost always begin to slip— and the cost-to-complete starts to rise. Program execution isn’t the issue,


but rather weakness in the original proposal. Program performance could be enhanced with exponential improve- ments in the level of engineering detail and shared knowledge available during the proposal phase. Conventional think- ing suggests that significant investment is needed to routinely make proposals that are aggressive and appealing to a customer, yet risk-free for both parties. However, examining manufacturers and suppliers outside the aerospace industry proves this to be a false assumption. Other industries—especially those


without identified launch customers or revenue guarantees backing their investment—have elected to model and simulate their way out of this dilemma. For example, automotive companies put effort into simulating the product lifecycle during the proposal phase, enabling them to provide more realis-


tic estimations on timelines, costs and overall performance. Automotive manu- facturers study a product’s behavior in a customer setting—helping to ensure the product will perform as intended. Tey model and simulate manufacturing in the digital world so that production lines can quickly run at “rate” without a hint of the slow learning curves typical in aerospace production. Since cost can be amortized with higher production rates, automotive companies spend more on hard tooling and automation to reduce variability. However, both of these investments are much less expen- sive to develop and produce with mod- ern design and manufacturing soſtware. In addition, the data developed during proposal time is reused and refined aſter launch, reducing the non-recurring detail development cost.


Change can be difficult, but rising expectations and budget scrutiny make it a necessity.


Many in the aerospace industry


argue that low production rates make this approach less feasible or cost effec- tive. Tese critics aren’t evaluating the full picture; commercial shipbuilders and oil platform construction compa- nies have adopted this approach quite successfully. So, can aerospace manu- facturers adopt these same practices and close the gap between promise and delivery? Absolutely. Change can be difficult, but rising


expectations and budget scrutiny make it a necessity. Traditional ways of working will have to be replaced with approaches that take advantage of the


Michel Tellier


Vice President, Aerospace & Defense Dassault Systèmes Waltham, MA


latest soſtware capabilities. Proposal teams may need training on the latest modeling, simulation and collaboration technologies in order to harness their skills, knowledge and experience. Yet, these investments will result in more innovative, winning proposals that can be delivered on time, ultimately mak- ing a company more competitive. In any industry, companies that put


projects out to bid are looking for an aggressive proposal that exceeds their expectations. But the price-point and the confidence in the manufacturer or sup- plier to deliver on their promise weigh just as heavily. Te formula for success is simple: aggressive proposals at a competi- tive price from teams that earn the trust of the customers will ultimately win. Opportunities abound for companies


that adopt this approach. For example, as the space shuttle era has come to a close, NASA is beginning to commer- cialize space flight and outsource the development of many programs—from propulsion systems to crew vehicles. Coming to the table with strong propos- als and the due diligence to demonstrate that schedules and budgets will be met can propel companies to an early lead in this new sector of the industry. If your company can deliver a pro-


posal that beats the competition with a higher fidelity response, while allowing the customer to experience a realistic view of how the product performs, the customer will be in a position to better evaluate and trust your proposal. With higher fidelity in the proposal your com- pany has added confidence in perform- ing to cost and schedule and improving your bottom line. ✈


Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2013 47


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