Manufacturing and the assembly of parts for the aeronautics industry is an inherently complex and extremely technical sector within the manufacturing industry by default. However, in spite of the processes and products themselves being cutting-edge, the overall business aspect of an aeronautics manufacturing & assembly unit might be lacking in both technology and better manufacturing practices.
To explain this somewhat complex concept and discuss some very useful steps that any manufacturing business in aeronautics can take to improve their performance from the commercial aspect, we will now take a brief look at a few ideas surrounding all that.
The Concept of Lean Manufacturing: Necessary to See Immediate and Significant Improvements
While the actual implementation might be complex, especially when it involves manufacturing parts of the aviation industry, the concept of lean manufacturing is not. Just like the name suggests, the idea is to make the whole process of manufacturing/assembling a single unit as “lean” as possible. In other words, the idea is to remove as many steps as possible from the process as a whole, and also from the microprocesses within the main one.
The benefits of adopting lean manufacturing can be listed as below and do note that they are more universal in nature than just being limited to the aeronautics industry.
- Increased volume in production and speed of production
- Reduction of resource wastage and delivery of exactly what was ordered
- Improved quality checks and reduced chances of manufacturing errors
- Elimination of all steps that can be eliminated, for decreasing the time necessary to complete each step from start to finish
- Improvement in inventory mobilization
- Improvement in customer satisfaction and profit margins at the same time
There are various philosophies, approaches, and methods that have been developed throughout the years around lean manufacturing, some of them like the famous Six Sigma, Kaizen, etc., are more or less alternative or slightly different approaches towards achieving the same final results; increased productivity in speed and volume through elimination of wastage and unnecessary steps.
As should be evident, this is only meant to give the reader a basic introduction regarding what the concept of lean manufacturing is. However, in order to be actually able to make a real impact and implement the various concepts of lean and agile manufacturing within an aeronautics manufacturing and assembly unit, you will need to get a lean manufacturing certification, preferably the one that has been developed in collaboration with General Motors for a much more relatable learning experience.
In absence of the necessary education, it would be impossible to implement it in any business, as lean manufacturing is a structured, step-by-step method, with multiple associated concepts to implement each of those steps in a real manufacturing unit. The alternative would be to hire someone with the knowledge and experience necessary in lean manufacturing and aeronautics, which is why a lean manufacturing certification is also a good way to boost any resume in the manufacturing sector, particularly when backed by experience.
AI-Powered Robotics: Upgrade and Update
At this point in time, there are hardly any factories or assembly centers in the United States that are working in the aeronautics sector without a robotic arm or ten! The idea, however, is to improve what is already there. To put it in other words, robotics has been in play within manufacturing plants, and especially inside complex and heavy manufacturing/assembly units, for decades at this point, but they have not been updated in most of them.
A lot has happened in the last 2 – 3 years in the field of robotic locomotion, articulation, and artificial intelligence integration, therefore, unless a factory or assembly unit has incorporated some of that evolutionary robotics within their operation recently, it’s losing out. Updates to archaic robotic technology can see massive improvements in production capacity, speed, and accuracy.
As both the software and the hardware come together as a package in most cases, the initial costs could be heavy, which is the reason why a lot of units in aviation parts manufacturing/assembly are not upgrading. There are, however, two possible solutions to the initial cost issue, if and when it’s a factor.
Firstly, one doesn’t need to change everything in order to adopt a single piece of modern robotic manufacturing equipment, but that single improvement can lead to amazing results. The rest can be updated with time and as deemed possible and necessary. A single update and upgrade in manufacturing equipment will also serve as a clear example of how much more can be achieved by upgrading completely.
Secondly, if your aeronautics manufacturing unit is not completely outdated and has received a few upgrades in the last decade, it might be possible for you to hire software development partners who can make the necessary changes to incorporate at least a few aspects of modern machine learning concepts into the old robotics manufacturing equipment. It’s a bespoke solution and while it cannot be as productive as a complete overhaul, the improvement will most definitely be noticeable and a lot cheaper.
It should be clear that machine learning is an evolving concept and lean management methods can also benefit from it. As a matter of fact, all modern lean management software is built with the very idea to constantly suggest ways for eliminating unnecessary wastage of resources and time, through constant analysis.
Training and Retraining the Staff
As the final step here, we need to clarify the importance and seriousness of training new personnel and retraining older employees before the new equipment and processes are put into action. Without the necessary training, even the most experienced workers will be at sea, which is counterproductive and dangerous.
The good news is that since every piece of modern equipment is built on the very idea of simplifying and improving the process, the training/retraining should not take too long to complete. Just make sure that the training is thorough though, as the tiniest of mistakes in the field of aeronautics can completely disrupt everything, resulting in loss of both money and time on a medium to disastrous level, depending on the nature of the error’s impact and scale.
Contributed by: Umer Mehmood