The Potential of Intelligent Technologies in the Aerospace and Defense Industry

By 2025, data will be the fuel that moves the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry forward.

This emphasis on data means aerospace manufacturers will have deeper, real-time visibility into business processes, which facilitates accurate decision-making and reduced time to market. This increased visibility into the supply chain and assets will influence customer trust exponentially.

Intelligent technologies supported by a centralized digital platform are the instruments that will provide these data insights across the business. The impact on costs and overall customer experience will be game-changing for the highly-connected aerospace businesses.

The Role of Data

There is unbounded potential in intelligent technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics. In aerospace manufacturing, IoT enables technologies like digital twins to increase equipment insights while predictive analytics optimizes equipment health predictions. With additional advancements, such as industry leaders moving to the cloud for more agility and exploring the power of operational and experiential data for deeper customer insights, manufacturers can truly take advantage of the promise of digital.

“As a key provider today in the A&D industry, both from the traditional ERP platforms and the emerging digital data environment, SAP will be an important partner for leading A&D customers off legacy platforms onto an innovation platform like SAP S/4 HANA where we can bring to bear all the important technologies that come with digitization,” says Mark Testoni, president and CEO of SAP National Security Services.

The innovations start when data is connected and available. When data is digitized and freed from silos by the use of a connected data platform, A&D companies can layer on intelligent technologies, such as blockchain, predictive analytics, machine learning, and digital twins.

“We are watching our A&D customers evolve and start to look forward to and develop systems that can take advantage of all the data they have collected over the years,” says Brian Roach, managing director of U.S. Regulated Industries at SAP. “Many of these customers have collected petabytes of data that they need to tap into and extract actionable insight that they can apply to the future. The evolution of SAP technology and the Intelligent Enterprise are now the foundational elements they need to go forward and develop data-driven, predictive systems.”

The Impact of a Digital Twin

Data-driven systems will have an incredible impact on manufacturing processes and the supply chain, especially the digital twin.

“The digitization of data will create visibility into the supply chain unlike we’ve ever seen before,” says Testoni. “Every company has a physical supply chain and a digital one. Those will be much more unified, and we will be able to compress a tremendous amount of slack out of these supply chains. We will be able to get assets and resources where they need to be and when they need to be there. End customers and all the suppliers will be able to understand how to provide better support and create a better experience around the entire lifecycle of very complex products.”

Intelligent technologies, like the digital twin, allow aerospace manufacturers to resolve issues faster, predict maintenance needs, and support the innovation of the entire value chain. The digital twin does this by duplicating the physical properties of machines into software and using simulation to enable predictive engineering insights across the product lifecycle.

Assets can now be managed in real time because of the use of smart sensors on the physical machines and virtual sensors on the digital twin. These sensors help give visibility into the continuous state of the assets so A&D businesses can address manufacturing issues before they occur. Downtime is greatly reduced, maintenance costs are lowered, and overall performance is enhanced. Simulation-based digital twins also improve product design processes by enabling optimized design models that significantly lessen prototyping and testing costs.

As SAP continues to work with the A&D industry to build the intelligent aerospace enterprise, SAP has already began working with the ecosystem to advance the predictive and machine learning capabilities of the Intelligent Enterprise. SAP and Ansys have worked together to design and build a live showcase that demonstrates the power of a digital twin, using engineering simulation and IoT technologies to revolutionize asset management.

“Things are possible today with AI, machine learning, and blockchain that we couldn’t imagine just a few years ago,” says Mike Golz, senior vice president and CIO at SAP Americas. “SAP and our partners will provide apps that take advantage of these innovations and infuse them into the business processes to create a better experience for A&D customers, brands, and employees.”

SAP and Ansys will be at the International Paris Air Show this year displaying this live showcase. To experience the power of a digital twin, please visit us at the Ansys Booth 52 in Hall 4, June 17–19. For more information on how your business can prepare for the future of A&D and benefit from technologies like the digital twin, check out “The Intelligent Enterprise for the Aerospace & Defense Industry.”


This article originally appeared on Medium.