Disrupting supply chains
Additive Manufacturing has the potential to revolutionise aerospace manufacturing, and will be increasingly utilised for the production of aerospace structural and mechanical components in the near future. However, when scaling up AM technology, companies are encountering a number of challenges that are inhibiting growth.
“Without business intelligence, it is impossible to scale”
Aerospace businesses have invested in AM plant, but failed to implement effective production control solutions to optimise plant and resource efficiencies. This results in limited standardisation and digitalisation of the AM production control process, from job costing and build planning optimisation, to chemical analysis and dynamic powder traceability. Without business intelligence and committed order books, companies cannot justify ROI, which is restricting growth of this disruptive technology.
Risks in the aerospace sector
Powder contamination significantly impacts the quality and cost effectiveness of the AM process. Therefore, it is critical that powders are appropriately maintained, tracked and tested for every build, powder recovery, and blend, to prevent risk of product failure. Without digitalised powder traceability, it is impossible to capture and mitigate risks in the AM supply chain.
Is AM cost effective?
Before volume production levels are achieved, it is very challenging to accurately amortise the significant investments in state-of-the art additive manufacturing plant, which has a fundamental impact on ROI calculations. Furthermore, AM companies must digitalise processes, and ensure accurate monitoring of build costings, powder utilisation, and shop floor data capture, to generate competitive quotations and margin analysis.
Scaling AM in the supply chain
Primes and tier 1s are proving out, and standardising best practice processes for structural and mechanical components. However, in order to scale-up volume production, primes and tier 1s must cascade these standards and proven methods to an approved sub-tier network. But what will the supply chain look like? Will it be AM specialists with minimal experience of the aerospace sector? Or will it be established aerospace suppliers with minimal experience of additive manufacturing? Neither is ideal, and it is likely to be a combination of both. However, both options require digitalised production control solutions that ensure industry compliance and best practice AM processes are cascaded throughout the supply chain.
DNAam - The critical building block
There is an immediate need in the global additive manufacturing market for an integrated solution that digitalises production control processes and manages risk, cost and standardisation in the aerospace supply chain. This is why Valuechain collaborated with Airbus UK and Zenith Tecnica to develop DNAam to simplify, digitalise and standardise best practice technical and quality system compliance, control costs and improve AM plant utilisation.
DNAam can be deployed as a turnkey solution from quotation and contract review, through to First Article and invoicing, or can be integrated with existing ERP systems as a specialised additive manufacturing module. By providing complete powder traceability, build file management, chemical analysis recording, shop floor data capture, accurate job costing and business intelligence; DNAam provides the critical building block to streamline and improve additive manufacturing processes.
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