Aerospace & Defense manufacturers deal with complex and varied product requirements pertaining to aircraft (private, defense, space & commercial), aircraft components, spare parts, military components and associated equipment. With ever-increasing global demand for passenger travel, military aircrafts and defense equipment coupled with introduction of new technology, the market has become increasingly competitive and every manufacturer wants a piece of that pie. To cater to customers’ varied needs, they have to be increasingly innovative, automate critical workflows, bring production agility, comply to quality standards, manage large-scale projects, control costs and deliver on-time to customers. A capable and comprehensive ERP software can help them achieve this. 

ERP Software for Aerospace & Defense

To produce high quality, precision aircraft parts, defense equipment and components that meet industry standards, manufacturers would need to procure high quality raw materials, tools & manufacturing supplies, and equip their personnel with the latest technological knowledge. They have to communicate real-time with their suppliers & customers, monitor production data, costs, goods movement across the supply chain, and ensure on-time delivery of products. 

Below are the most critical ERP features that let them beat market competition. 

Planning & Scheduling

Aerospace & Defense manufacturers have to manufacture and deliver in a short span of time. To do this, they have to get a firm grip over their process planning and dispatch scheduling. An ERP software makes the entire planning & scheduling process, lean and efficient. They can customize execution plans and automate repetitive tasks to save costs and effort. They can perform efficient scheduling and make quick decisions based on trade-offs and current demands, which saves time and reaps profit too.

Through Material Requirement Planning (MRP), critical aspects such as material purchasing, shipping and distribution can be easily managed.  Material and component availability can be continuously monitored throughout the supply chain. Instant alerts and guides reduce the risk by prompting immediate action. Planning can be adjusted based on quality risk assessment of items that are in QA hold. Actual lead times vs. planned lead times can be measured to improve planning effectiveness.

Lot Management & Material Traceability

Material traceability plays a major role as manufacturers have to inspect each and every component/part for defects as prescribed by industry regulations. Therefore, every part has to be tracked to its original source in case of a batch defect and needs a recall.

With an ERP software, manufacturers can 

  • Easily track lot and serialized items from cradle to grave and its movement across the entire supply chain
  • Inspect, manage and connect data to component specifications, gage control functions or other vital plans with Statistical Process Control (SPC). 
  • Keep a track of customer approved vendors and suppliers for material and outside processes for each item.
  • Place purchase orders to approved vendors based on work order requirements.
  • Attach material certifications to inbound material lots and track the lots throughout the process.
  • Effectively track on-time delivery and quality performance of vendors.

Supply Chain Management

A&D manufacturers have to reach out to local and global markets to beat competition. This means, their supply chain should be at its very best with operational visibility all across. With ERP software, they can easily achieve aggressive delivery cycles and quicker turnaround time to deal with local and global market requirements. 

An ERP’s in-built supply chain capability lets them share real-time data with their suppliers and vendors.  Centralized handling and facility to obtain live updates makes it simple to handle geographically distant locations. This also keeps the manufacturers, vendors and customers well connected. With functionalities like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integrated into the ERP, they can have standardized communications, easy transactions and order mapping options to facilitate strong connection with suppliers.

With supplier portals, suppliers have easy access to real-time supply chain data of manufacturers. They can raise purchase orders as and when they detect a dip in existing inventory levels. Quick decisions can be taken based on material tracking, live analysis and historical data. It also aids in handling lengthy manufacturing and sales processes, while keeping up with the time constraints. 

Compliance & Documentation

Aerospace and Defense manufacturers biggest challenge lies in having to comply with stringent quality standards and regulatory bodies. For instance, AS9100 requires an ERP setup to have strong traceability and documentation features. Another such example is ERP’s transparency in displaying bids and prices based on legitimate information helps the system comply with Truth in Negotiation Act (TINA). 

An ERP aids in regulatory compliance, automated setup, productivity-oriented resource allocation, strong inventory control, better distribution planning, live updates and faster error rectification. Additionally, compliance to standards like AS900 Rev C can be done without any extra investment or effort. 

They can eliminate paper-based documentation with ERP’s complete documentation and revision control management along with auto-approvals and auto-updates. Bar-code and RFID technology ensures that all incoming materials are tagged with a barcode, recorded into the ERP and tracked throughout its movement on the floor. Material certifications can be assigned to inbound material lots and tracked throughout its movement. For finished goods, the ERP should maintain a record of all serialized parts, components, sub-assemblies produced. This, along with respective work orders, material quantity, machines and manpower used. 

Cost Management

An ERP lets A&D manufacturers manage costs at every stage, starting from bidding for contracts to execution payments to budget tracking to billing. They can track project costs, actual material procurement costs and get a detailed breakdown of costs for material/parts, overhead, labor and outside processes. They can create and configure cost types for various cost categories (materials, overheads, labor). It provides various accounting methods such as Standard Costing and Actual Costing. Manufacturers have an option to either calculate overhead costs based on their origin i.e. cost centres or calculate the costs based on each product manufactured. 

Each cost can be tagged to a BOM (as an item) or to a specific work order. This becomes a part of the overall manufacturing process and supervisors can easily arrive at an accurate product cost and compare it with the estimated cost. They can monitor costs based on every job, work order, item type, department, personnel shift, day/month/year, customer etc. All this data helps them to derive improvements in the procurement and manufacturing process and reduce the overall cost of the product.

Quality Control

Quality control is one of the most crucial aspect of A&D manufacturing and an ERP software should be fully equipped to track quality parameters at each and every phase of manufacturing. It allows them to view and control inspections, control plans, quality checks and Failure Mode & Effective Analyses (FMEAs). At every stage of manufacturing, it helps them have a keen eye on each part that is being manufactured on the shop floor, identify defects accurately, fix issues and reject defective parts quickly.

Data Analytics & Visibility

It is of high importance that the different units of your business work as one entity. An ERP which allows high data visibility across various sectors of A&D business will facilitate you to have better control over the system. Additionally, a good ERP will integrate and coordinate operations of all the involved sub-units, like the shop floor, Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Quality management, Sales support, etc. Customized data dashboards available to personnel from the shop floor to the top floor help them to make calculated decisions based on real-time data and increase efficiency. They can perform in-depth analysis to correct anomalies, streamline planning and operations, and detect potential interruptions before they happen.

Conclusion

Overall, an ERP software and its power-packed features help Aerospace & Defense manufacturers to beat market competition by staying ahead of their competitors, be more data driven that makes them more efficient and profitable. 

Check out OmegaCube ERP for Aerospace & Defense manufacturers.