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Aerospace Expertise According to a recent report from Pierfrancesco Manenti


of IDC Manufacturing Insights, the industry is already gearing up for this challenge. In a recent poll of A&D executives, IDC found that the industry is focusing on long-term, balanced strategies for growth, including controlling costs, increasing value-added services and simplifying the supply chain. One interpretation of this research is that collaboration can be achieved by investing in modern ERP soſtware to bolster the IT infrastructure and maximize operational performance.


Communication and Collaboration Collaboration plays an important role in all forms of


manufacturing, not just A&D. Group problem solving, troubleshooting and idea generation serve as many top manu- facturers’ most successful sources for generating new oppor- tunities. Today, as manufacturers struggle with shortages of highly-skilled personnel while simultaneously attempt- ing to grow without expanding head count, the value of shared dialog and effective collaboration is greater than ever. Workers may need to share tasks, mentor recruits or take on entirely new roles. In these cases, communi- cation within the workforce increases in importance. Te qualities that lead to success in manufacturing


revolve around rapid mastery of highly-sophisticated processes combining human judgment, precision engi- neering and financial accuracy—all united in a highly- synchronized framework focused on business goals. Te most important collaborative functions include the engineering and design process, business process inte- gration, real-time financial reporting and analytics and fully-connected manufacturing execution capabilities. A competitive manufacturing company needs constant optimization to retain peak performance and support long-term success. For the A&D industry, the benefits of collaboration


Te details found in the A&D industry are too essential to


be lost in a casual dialog. Tey need to be captured, stored and leveraged as part of the knowledge base for future reference. Collaboration tools, built especially for business applications and integrated into the ERP system allow that. Let’s look at each of the target areas cited in the IDC re- search and see how collaboration tools impact the process.


Value-Added Service “More than 80% of our aerospace respondents want to sus-


tain growth by selling more added-value services on products,” said Manenti. “Attempting to create a competitive edge in respect to aggressive competition, aerospace and defense firms have sought to provide their clients with repair, maintenance and overhaul services. Te end goal is to create a more engaged rela- tionship with their clients and improve customer fulfillment.”


are particularly important. Service, innovation and the supply chain—the target areas for IT improvement cited in the IDC research—all benefit from enabling personnel to com- municate in real-time, share data easily and connect contextual facts to service orders, customer requests, configuration sche- matics and as-assembled unit details. A manufacturing organization is like a living organism,


ERP allows completely visual production control. With collaboration tools, meaningful, fact-based dialog


complete with its own institutional knowledge and memory. Much of that knowledge and memory walks out the door at the end of every shiſt as thousands of baby boomers retire every day. While much of that knowledge gets passed along informally over time, informal information sharing has limits. Just as in the well-known “telephone game” where a whispered message changes completely from the first telling to the fiſth or sixth, your key institutional knowledge can stray greatly from its original meaning if it’s not structured and stored.


156 Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2013


with customers is made easy and convenient. Even complex data can be shared through online portals integrated to the ERP solutions. Technicians working in the field can escalate critical-part needs to the purchasing department or warehouse and inquire about status of accounts, warranties or compliance issues—with immediate response. Tis real-time dialogue saves time and enables the technician to provide faster resolu- tion of service without waiting for reports, meetings or a man- ager to respond. Te entire team can coordinate answers to act quickly to escalate issues, prioritize activities and coordinate strategies to fulfill customer needs quickly and efficiently. In the A&D industry, MRO decisions cannot be made in isolated vacuums, since maintenance requirements, customer demands, systems, components, budgets and contract agree- ments are complex and interwoven. Connectivity with team


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