Recent reports from leading aircraft manufacturers indicate that aircraft fleet size around the world will double in the next two decades. The demand for new aircraft, including replacements, will be more than double during this period. OEMs in this industry are facing order backlog, and are working to overcome the challenges for on-time delivery while meeting aerospace quality requirements.
Quite obviously, timely delivery of quality products enhances the reputation of any organization. Compared to the early days of industrialization, products today are not rudimentary. They have more features, offer superior performance, and have more number of parts sourced from a global supply base. In a complex system like this, engineering organizations have multiple challenges to deliver quality products on time. The probability for quality issues before, during, and even after production is high. Subsequently, aircraft manufacturers that do not achieve targeted deliveries are bound to see piling work-in-progress inventory, upset customers, and stressed employees.
Most aircraft and engine OEMs attribute delivery delays to production ‘nonconformances.’ When a product or process fails to meet the desired specifications, quality management standards require that a nonconformance be logged, investigated, and resolved in a systematic, documented manner. Product delivery has to be deferred till nonconformances are resolved, and extra cost is incurred due to engineering investigations, specialist approvals, rework, scrap, change documentation and communication that follow. Nonconformances also distract the central purpose of an engineering organization. Such events drain the best resources, dent productivity, and consume significant management bandwidth. This way, millions of dollars of engineering resources are being squandered each day, not to mention the intangible opportunity cost of what could have been better-engineered products.
Quick resolution of nonconformances is critical to product integrity, reputation and meeting the regulatory requirements. Timely resolution accelerates product delivery and the number of people engaged in the process determines the cost incurred. Mostly, the resources drawn into this muddle include administrators, designers, specialists, production staff, supply chain, and in some instances, the customers as well. Managing nonconformances has always been hard, and is a regular source of inefficiency and cause of irritation for manufacturers. They continue to search for the right answers to deal with these events and thus improve their delivery throughput effectively. So, what are the options available for OEMs to prevent these incidents? –Their options are threefold – insource, outsource, or a combination of both.
QuEST Global, a leading product engineering and lifecycle services provider for the Aerospace industry across the product lifecycle, has been supporting a large aircraft OEM to accelerate their delivery rate by handling production nonconformances. This customer had a growing backlog due to production nonconformances. We applied our Local-Global delivery model, where 80% of engineering services is executed 5000 miles away from the manufacturing facility at a cost-efficient location. A capable team of engineers based near the customer site ensures product integrity. We built the necessary capability to move significant components of the workstream into our area of responsibility. Through joint training with the customer, we developed experts who can approve the work and reduce the time spent in seeking approvals from the customer. Our secure IT infrastructure enabled us to plug into the customer’s network system for data, tools, and design standards. We implemented a state–of-the-art metric management system, which has electronic displays and other visual management aids to track the progress of tasks and report live status, so that the customer knows what exactly we are working on, and by when we can deliver the solution.
Today, we have the capability to manage large volumes of nonconformances, flexibility to absorb changing priorities, and the agility to quickly respond to fluctuating load. Our 24 x 7 support is unique and helps us manage the challenges of the nonconformance workstream. Tangible benefits to our customer include: