4 November

Concerns Voiced Over Supply Chains Ability to Cope with Increased Production

Oxford, UK 2015 – The future is bright for the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturers. Airbus and Boeing have huge order books, with a combined backlog of 12,000+ aircraft worth nearly $1 trillion at list prices. Deloitte estimates that over the next ten years output will rise by 25%. The reasons for prosperity are manifold, but cheap fuel (oil accounts for 30% of airline operating costs), a growing population and more disposable incomes within Asia and the Middle East helps. This healthy outlook for the industry is in stark contrast to many sectors which are falling foul of austerity measures.

Aircraft Manufacturers Expect Record Growth for UK Supply Chain

For the UK supply chain – with more than 3,000 companies, the aerospace sector employs more than 100,000 people and contributes £28 billion – this is good news with guaranteed business for a number of years (some experts estimate nine years) –. However, Stephen Gregory, Supplier Development Manager at Airbus, questioned at a recent WEAF conference whether suppliers could cope with a ramp-up in production and be able to deliver the parts.

To complicate the scenario a variety of new planes are set to be launched, both from Airbus and Boeing, each with their own complex chain of component-makers. Even now an Airbus spokesperson has admitted that there are likely to be “hiccups” in the supply chain. To this end, OEMs now monitor the supply chain far more closely – this can result in them sending inspectors to their factories or pressing them to invest in new capacity.


 Transitional Year for Supply Chain

Therefore, it is no surprise that analyst firm Berenberg described 2015 as a “transitional year” for the supply chain as new initiatives create “operational challenges” for manufacturers. To some extent, these pressures have resulted in supply chain consolidation in an effort to increase robustness. Moreover, when R&D expenditure drains margins and cash flow, the question as to whether the channel can cope becomes more relevant.

However, a key consideration in all of this is technology and the business efficiencies and cost reductions it can provide to help companies cope with increased production demands.

Desktop Engineering (DTE), a leading UK engineering software solutions provider, is the sole UK reseller of ICAM, an advanced NC post-processing and machine tool simulation solution which is specifically designed for the Aerospace sector. For the last 40 years it has been providing the industry with technologies that improve the engineering process and provide machining efficiencies and faster time to market.

AVPE Benefits

Steve Eccles, technical manager at AVPE (a high quality precision-engineered component manufacturer for the Aerospace industry), explains the benefits of ICAM following a recent deployment:
“Our brief to DTE was to optimise our machining process. The market is very competitive so any small advantage is priceless.  The ICAM implementation has been quick and flawless and we estimate that it is now saving us more than 20% on machining time.”

ICAM’s customers benefit from dramatic improvements to CNC machine optimization, NC programmer productivity and manufacturing process efficiency. In the UK, DTE supplies ICAM’s complete Integrated Post-Processing, Simulation & Emulation (Integrated PSE) solutions to companies that use the most popular CAM Systems.

Geoff Haines, managing director at DTE, said:

“Over the last twelve months we have seen significant interest in ICAM’s post processing solutions from the aerospace sector. One of the main reasons is that if you deploy ICAM technology you have the flexibility to migrate a part program between CNC machines, which ultimately reduces CAM programming time and fixture design time. From our perspective, ICAM’s technologies complement our existing portfolio which enables us to offer a more comprehensive service to aerospace manufacturers.”


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