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Increases in Airplane Production Call for ERP Implementation

As the global demand for passenger airplanes increases, aerospace manufacturers should invest in ERP software systems to improve their construction and delivery processes. In the air travel industry there is no margin of error, so precision during production is vital.

Boeing increasing fleet 
According to Forbes, Chicago-based airplane developer Boeing anticipates civilian travel by air to increase by 5 percent every year for the next two decades. Boeing, a company that derives 65 percent of its revenue from building and distributing commercial airplanes, will need to manufacture and deliver 36,770 airliners in the next 20 years to keep up with this expected growth.

Already orders are being placed and plans are underway to begin production on the new fleets. The Associated Press reported that BOC Aviation, a Singapore-based aircraft leasing company, ordered 82 airplanes from Boeing. The price tag on the order comes in at $8.8 billion. The 36,770 planes Boeing will develop in the next 20 years will cost roughly $5.2 trillion. Seventy percent of these aircraft will be single-aisle planes containing 160 seats each.

However, the only Boeing Dreamliner 787-10 jet will be built in Charleston, South Carolina. United Technologies Corporation will be designing and manufacturing the external engine housings for the aircraft, as it has also supplied parts for planes that are included in the Dreamliner fleet already. Smaller models than the 787-10 have also been manufactured in the Charleston area. But, at 225 feet long with a 323 passenger capacity, this version is the largest two-aisle Dreamliner that Boeing has taken on yet and demonstrates the growing need for innovative airplane parts.

What makes up an airplane?
Aerospace Manufacturing and Design states that the materials used in the aerospace manufacturing sector have changed dramatically over time, largely due to the need to increase fuel efficiency. Once primarily composed of aluminum, that element now only makes up 20 percent of an aircraft. Most of the structure is currently made from carbon fiber reinforced polymers, which are more light-weight than aluminum.

The most complex component of airplane manufacturing is the engine. The high level of precision required to achieve the zero margin for error takes time. Many individual parts are needed, all of which must be able to withstand incredibly high temperatures – as hot as 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat-resistant super alloys are now being entered into the manufacturing equation for the aerospace sector. These materials are more difficult to maneuver and they wear down tools much quicker than aluminum.

The aerospace sector is unique in that it relies on composite materials that directly impact design. Because component construction times are longer and supplies are more expensive, accurate inventory control and scheduling services are indispensable. In addition, during the next 20 years as Boeing constructs more than 30,000 aircraft, technology will likely make large strides and materials sourcing could change. A new composite material may come into being that offers manufacturers more flexibility during production.

ERP provides support
ERP software offers features designed specifically to cater to the needs of aerospace manufacturers. With a real-time data convergence factor, users can stay up to speed on inventory status, incoming materials and low levels of required parts.

Managers can also schedule workers for specific jobs or assign additional employees to a division that needs more labor. Materials, tools and ‘what if’ scheduling give manufacturers flexibility during construction, along with increasing efficiency and reduced waste. As airlines know, changes to routes or orders can happen quickly and often. The ability to drag and drop routing changes and swiftly update company-wide systems is crucial to accurate production and delivery.

Implementing ERP software will help aerospace manufacturers achieve their production goals.

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