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Driving manufacturing transformation in the aerospace industry

October 7, 2020

Across industries, operations managers understand that “digital” has indeed unlocked a new wave of performance improvement opportunities. New technologies make it possible to leverage the wealth of data locked in production equipment and improve its reliability, performance, and flexibility. Early pilot initiatives have demonstrated that digital technologies help build on the foundations laid by Lean Manufacturing and extend those benefits to entire facilities or even to end-to-end supply chains.

Concurrently, manufacturers are under pressure. In the face of global events, such as volatile markets or pandemics, they’re reviewing every aspect of their supply chains. The lessons they learn today will build long-term resilience for tomorrow and beyond and help turning the next-generation vision of manufacturing – the Factory of the Future – into reality.


Whatever the aerospace product – from the simplest part to a 94,000lb jet-engine or even satellite production – aerospace requires combining labor-intensive manufacturing with the precise assembly of ultra-complex products. In contrast to the automotive industry, where almost the entire global process is automated, a significant part of aerospace operations is still manually managed. Without considering production volume difference between both industries, safety and quality requirements might be the main contributing factor delaying transformation.

Industry 4.0 makes it possible to consider obstacles as key elements to unlock scalability and initiate the Factory of the Future. Almost all manufacturers and their supply chains are eager to start this journey, implement concepts, and look for interconnections. But the question how to start remains.

Accelerate the digitalization journey

In the Factory of the Future, Intelligent Industry 4.0 technologies (AI & analytics, cloud and edge computing, cybersecurity, 5G, IoT, and data engineering) are converging at speed. And thanks to the coming together of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) – the layer that makes machines and plants work – industrial manufacturers can take advantage of connected and consistent sources of data in ways to provide both production transparency and actionable answers to questions about production bottlenecks, inefficient workflows, and equipment in need of preventive maintenance.

IT-OT convergence will help to take a value-first approach, simplify the digital transformation approach, and allow customers to save time and money by reducing the complexity they would typically undertake as part of an industrial internet of things (IIoT) implementation

Bring the potential of DATA to the factory floor

Early in 2020, order books were full for years or even decades and the main objectives for the industry was to answer the ramp-up challenge while securing quality. Quality is and will remain the primary objective. However, given the need to keep operations running in a world facing new constrains while also improving production adaptability, volume has been replaced by flexibility. For aerospace manufacturers seeking to transform, improve quality control and competitiveness while securing preparing for new industry upswing, there are key items to consider:

Connectivity: Using industrial IoT, smart factories can gather a wide range of data from existing equipment and new sensors across the world. These sensors are interconnected to machines, providing visibility of their condition and of the processes occurring in the factory.

Intelligent automation: Having data alone is only half the challenge. The ability to deploy a solution to analyze and visualize this information in real time is just as crucial – not only to lower costs, but also to increase reliability and manufacturing efficiency and effectiveness (especially when lean principles and process have already been deployed).

Big data management and analytics: The implementation of AI and predictive analytics, enables the automation of routine tasks allowing humans to focus on making higher-level decisions. The ultimate achievement for the Industry 4.0-enabled aerospace production space is a situation in which machines can predict their own futures and prevent downtime.

Looking ahead

Our next challenge is to share concrete direct investment returns for each project. Through Capgemini’s partnership with Microsoft, we are unlocking the transformation journey and multiplying options for organizations to leverage the unexplored potential of the manufacturing data.

Find out how Capgemini can accelerate the effectiveness of your digital manufacturing operations at scale with our “Factory of the Future” approach.