June 4, 2019 Written by John Heller

Solving the Design Collaboration Problem in Aerospace & Defense

Last week’s PLM Roadmap & PDT North America event from CIMdata emphasized the future state of PLM. With a theme of “PLM for Professionals—Product Lifecycle Innovation,” the event invited some of the biggest names in aerospace & defense, software, heavy equipment, and research to speak about the current state and exciting future of PLM.

As an event sponsor, Vertex had the opportunity to attend the event with our friend and retired GM PLM Leader, Craig Brown. Although the aerospace & defense industry may be facing some unique challenges in the space, they also have some of the most exciting opportunities to alleviate pain, accelerate product development, and streamline their PLM approach.

The Rapid Growth of the Extended Enterprise

The aerospace industry is facing a manufacturing crisis. Aircraft order backlog is at an all-time high at 14,000 planes. To catch up, manufacturers are ramping up production rates but entities along the supply chain struggle to keep pace. Accenture reported that of the aerospace and defense companies they interviewed:

  • 64 percent have seen their ecosystem double in size within the last two years
  • 90 percent expect to exchange more data with their extended enterprise in the coming years
  • 67 percent say innovation is a top responsibility

These challenges aren’t just limited to aerospace and defense—discrete manufacturing at large companies must juggle the ever-growing demands of the global market and the rapid growth in their extended enterprise. Yet, as OEMs pressure suppliers to reduce costs and increase production, companies run the risk of missing key optimizations and innovations in their product designs. To address this concern, companies must carefully consider how their PLM strategy will incorporate enterprise-wide communication and collaboration, especially as the extended enterprise continues to grow.

“Effective change in any company only happens when technology, people, and processes are developed in harmony.”

Craig Brown, Retired, PLM Leader at GM

Craig succinctly summarizes both the challenge and the opportunity that manufacturers are facing with the explosion of the extended enterprise: “Effective change in any company only happens when technology, people, and processes are developed in harmony.” This theme persisted throughout CIMdata’s event.

Elevating 3D Collaboration to Streamline Extended Enterprise Capabilities

Looking specifically to one area of an extended enterprise’s product lifecycle management (PLM) process, today’s 3D visualization and collaboration requirements present many unique problems. As part of the event, Craig presented alongside Vertex Director of Product Matt Heying to discuss three major roadblocks:

  • Wasted time and workflow bottlenecks waiting for massive model load, access, and approval
  • Complex user experience as users both inside and outside of engineering have to undergo tedious training and retraining
  • Excessive cost in hardware and support staff

Many of these problems stem from the extended enterprise’s inability to securely access 3D models. Even teams outside of engineering who can access the models struggle to collaborate in complicated PLM systems. However, today’s technological innovations and capabilities allow opportunities for companies to mitigate—and even eliminate—many of these challenges. Craig and Matt showed how the Vertex platform is helping to break through collaboration barriers and give companies limitless collaboration capabilities in a secure environment.

Align the Extended Enterprise on a PLM Vision

Craig also presented on some of the challenges that the extended enterprise undergoes when transforming business processes towards a model-based enterprise. Large discrete manufacturers with a wide breadth of complex products must balance the pressures of a global market while managing internal product, process, and organizational complexities. This places an extraordinary demand on strategy and execution to reduce costs, improve quality, accelerate time-to-market, and increase efficiencies with fewer resources.

To stay ahead, the enterprise must rapidly transform in ways that bring organizational value—without moving so fast that they can’t absorb lessons learned or adapt to new variables. Staying centered on a PLM vision helps the extended enterprise accelerate towards value in four ways:

  • Connect people with the information they need to respond in agile, rapid ways
  • Visualize information seamlessly with an intuitive user interface
  • Innovate by applying knowledge to the development process
  • Accelerate time-to-market by reducing non-value added activities and improving first-time quality

Taking Advantage of Extended Enterprise Growth

The rapid growth of the extended enterprise and ever-changing market demands will only continue to scale. With these changes, companies have an exciting opportunity to streamline their PLM activities and vision across the extended enterprise. If done correctly, companies can harness all the bountiful opportunities this growth holds to accelerate time-to-market, streamline communications down the supply chain, and maximize their tool usage to their greatest value.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Vertex can help companies achieve these goals, check out our platform features or get in touch.