The aerospace industry has become much more complex and competitive, according to an expert.
IMechE vice-president Ian Joesbury, who has just joined consultancy Vendigital’s team of aerospace experts, said the increasing availability of information had made customers much more intelligent in the way they analyse the market.
“It’s not good enough to just have some good IT and then think that’s going to keep you comfortable forever,” Joesbury told Professional Engineering. “You’ve got to be leading edge in terms of your technology and really strong in terms of cost base and ability to deliver high quality, on time and in a cost-effective way.”
Simulation technology, 3D-printing and automation have helped drive progress, and Joesbury said another major change was the increasing focus on the aftermarket, with companies increasingly selling maintenance support as well as parts. Rolls-Royce was one of the first companies to explore this business model – rather than selling engines, it sells ‘time-on-wing,’ with customers paying for the number of hours the engines are actually operational.
“A lot of the profit sits in the aftermarket, and a number of players are going aggressively after that,” said Joesbury, who is also the CEO of start-up Advanced Laser Technology. “That whole market has become much more dynamic, and alongside that you’ve got a lot of aircraft parts which are being re-certified. It’s a much more complex environment now, which is much more challenging in terms of the margins that are available and the levels of performance.”
Joesbury also pointed to Brexit as another complicating factor. “The key thing about Brexit is the uncertainty that it generates,” he said. “If I'm running a business I want to understand what my risks are and how I can respond to them. I’d like to understand the shape of my supply chain, how parts flow, where the costs sit in those supply chains, so that I can start to develop mitigation strategies to be able to respond to different scenarios that might occur.”
Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
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