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Companies in the aerospace sector play a significant role in the economies of many countries, as they contribute toward positive foreign trade balances, create and develop highly innovative and sophisticated products and services, employ millions of well educated professionals, and provide a strong foundation for national security.
The aerospace industry includes such manufacturers as
aircraft and helicopter manufacturers;
spaceship, satellite, and other space systems manufacturers;
aircraft and helicopter engine manufacturers;
materials, parts, components, and systems manufacturers; and
aerospace equipment manufacturers.
Despite the dramatic passenger and freight demand fluctuations of recent years, the overall performance of the aerospace manufacturing industry remains relatively strong and is growing, thanks in large part to government support efforts via participation in research and development (R&D) and military programs. These relationships comprise an important aspect of the industry; the influence of governments and international organizations and structures contributes toward the large number of different compliance regulations, good practices, and other formal rules that manufacturers must follow.
Aerospace sector companies are also characterized by other specific issues:
global competitiveness—the number of competitors is not high, but they are strong and usually play globally
unique, expensive, sophisticated, and value-added products, involving a significant amount of R&D, innovation, and high-tech equipment
deep government participation through financing, R&D, and military programs, which requires extensive budgeting, costing and reporting mechanisms, and fairness in financial policy and contracting
critical issues such as product quality, reliability, and customer support levels, along with cost reduction
full traceability requirements for finished products, parts, and components, and sometimes raw materials—the ability to see the entire manufacturing and supply history of each part is key
project-oriented research and manufacturing processes (depending on the nature of the product), often based on a project management or matrix structure
long and complex supply chains that are built to feed manufacturing requirements (a large number of suppliers are global and highly specialized)
environmental challenges, such as established timelines for fuel efficiency levels, carbon footprint reduction, and reduction in aviation emissions
a high level of customer support and service operation presence (essential for building long-term relationships), which can be a challenge, given the global spread of the aerospace industry’s customers
a workforce of highly educated and well-trained technology professionals who cannot always be found and hired quickly
Structurally, the aerospace manufacturing industry is part of the manufacturing sector, and the same software packages can be applied: enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), shop floor control, and manufacturing execution systems (MESs). Given the nature of aerospace products, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems are very important, as well as project portfolio management (PPM) applications as a supporting mechanism for the project-oriented business model. It is also important to leverage business intelligence (BI) functionality for clear visibility and operational transparency.
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