Doing business in the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) sector poses additional challenges to a manufacturer beyond what companies face in other markets. They have stringent reporting requirements, often they are held to a higher standard of quality and reliability, and there is continual focus on efficiency and cost cutting. Engineering and product lifecycle management demands tend to be extraordinary and there is usually a strong need for full traceability through the life of the product.
This series discusses some important considerations for A&D manufacturers in the context of enterprise information systems and how they can help in addressing five important areas of concern—compliance, control, communications, competitiveness and cutting cost, waste and complexity. Enterprise systems are essential tools for running a manufacturing business effectively, but the demands of the A&D market can place demands on system that are not easily addressed by one-size-fits-all products that are not specifically tailored to this environment.
Cre8tive Technology (www.ctnd.com) will be posting a weekly six part series on The Five Cs of Aerospace & Defense Success:
Part 1 The A & D Challenge
Part 2 Compliance
Part 3 Control
Part 4 Communicate
Part 5 Competitiveness
Part 6 Cutting
As much as anything else, the demands of A&D business rely on reporting the way the customer wants it, when the customer wants it, and complete, provable, and timely. Project tracking and WBS capabilities set the stage in allowing you to comply with the contract provisions. The next step is communication beyond those strict reporting requirements.
Under the general title of eBusiness, you want to be able to electronically communicate with suppliers and customers to remove what the consultants call ‘latency’ in the supply chain—communication delays that lengthen lead times and reduce flexibility. It starts with EDI—the electronic transfer of common business documents like purchase orders, acknowledgements, ship notices, and invoices. Next on the list is electronic funds transfer (ETF) on both the payables and receivables sides. The next capability to look for is the ability to send reports electronically—status reports to customers, plans, forecasts and blanket releases to suppliers. You should be able to export ad hoc query results to Microsoft® Excel® or Microsoft Word® for incorporation into outgoing correspondence.
Another step up the eBusiness evolutionary ladder is collaboration. You’ll want the ability to pass designs and specifications to suppliers and work with them to refine the parts and components you will be including in your products. An industrial strength Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system (sometimes called Product Data Management or PDM) system will pay big dividends here. Collaboration with suppliers on forecasts and planned purchases can be helpful as well. Share your procurement plans and schedules with key suppliers and work together to develop a purchasing plan that fits with the suppliers’ capabilities and resources. They will be better able to meet the schedule and provide reliable on-time deliveries.
On the customer side, embedded Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functionality ensures full communications throughout the project from initial contact through completion. Workflow management helps you keep track of each step of the process to insure that the right documents get into the right hands on the right dates and all steps and requirements are fully coordinated. Embedded demand scheduling and EDI reduce administrative delays in getting plans into action.
Follow this series and other previous postings on www.ctnd.com.