OEMs grappling with product lifecycle management

Luxair’s decision last week to part out a 10-year old 737-700 takes the number of -700s retired since its launch in 1993 to 17 and the average retirement age for the craft to just 12. Its older sibling, the -300, meanwhile isn’t retiring until it’s almost 23.

It’s no wonder then, that OEMs are making product lifecycle management (PLM) a strategic priority; if they better understand how aircraft are performing throughout their lives they can better anticipate new opportunities for products and services, as well as taking better informed decisions on designs for new craft.

While many firms can see the cost and revenue benefits of taking a cradle-to-grave view of an engine, airframe or component, barriers remain in terms of its application in the real world.

Just 21 per cent of engineering executives at major aerospace and defence companies recently interviewed by Accenture said they felt their business was “good” at using PLM to work with their suppliers to inform their designs.

The research, which surveyed executives from 31 companies generating 50 per cent of revenue from the global aerospace and defence industry, also revealed that 79 per cent believed their firm would benefit from collaborating on engineering and manufacturing design with their suppliers.

And while 84 per cent of the executives said they had access to PLM data, 90% want more or better information than they are getting now. 

Less than one-third of those polled believed that their firm was “good” at using in-service field data and 74 per cent confirmed they had plans in place to broaden their use of analytics in PLM.

With modern engines capable of generating 1Tb of data every day, OEMs are going to have foster good partnerships with their operators and MRO firms to be able to gather, analyse and use that data intelligently.


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