This year will be the year that additive manufacturing starts to deliver a real return on investment for those companies that have made the leap, according to Espen Olsen, European director for aerospace and defence at IFS.
In an article for MRO Network, Olsen outlines the top five technology trends that he believes will impact the commercial MRO sector in 2015 and the increased uptake of additive manufacturing in the sector is close to the top of that list.
Olsen cites the confidence and investment of major players, such as Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation, in the technology as a clear indicator for the direction of travel for the rest of the aerospace industry.
“In 2014 we saw the huge potential for this technology in aviation. In 2015 it will really show its worth in terms of reducing material costs, decreasing labour content, and increasing availability of parts at point of use, having a dramatic impact on the supply chain,” he argues.
While Olsen is right that some engine OEMs are keen to adopt the technology, I wonder if the costs and challenges of certification, as well as perceptions with regards safety, may see the use of additive manufacturing in MRO used in a similar way to PMA parts, with adoption focused more on parts for interiors than engines.
Another key technology trend Olsen predicts in 2015 is the increased use of mobile technology in MRO. “Maintenance ‘at-the-asset’ will become the expected norm, with engineers equipped with essential mobile apps to access relevant information at the time of need,” he says.
As an MRO app developer, IFS is unsurprisingly upbeat about growth in demand for its products. That said, in the current issue of Aircraft Technology Engineering & Maintenance, Nick Rice finds that appetite for apps in the MRO sector is growing and there is a burgeoning marketplace.
There are now apps available that provide engineers with access to flight data, workorders and parts locating systems, as well as the ability to submit non-conformance reports and oversee team activity on the move.
The real challenge for MROs it seems will be finding the right apps for their operations and making sure their engineers know how to get the most out of them.
Read Espen Olsen’s article in full at mro-network.com
What technological development will have the greatest impact on the MRO sector in 2015? Cast your vote on mro-network.com