If we were to judge the state of an industry sector by the headlines we read, then the world of aerospace would be defined by billionaire entrepreneurs – Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic/Virgin Orbit) and Elon Musk (SpaceX) spring to mind. The reality, however, is different.

While these visionaries may succeed in creating a space tourism industry and a step change in payload delivery – for example, the possibility of significantly bigger and cheaper communications and space exploration infrastructures (robots, satellites, telescopes) – there is a more immediate revolution underway, in aerospace manufacturing, right here on Earth.

AEROSPACE 4.0 Away from the media glare, global aerospace is at the forefront of a new manufacturing paradigm, the so-called fourth industrial revolution, a transformation being brought about through digital technology in automation, data exchange and process.

It is fair to say that digital manufacturing maturity is low in most vertical industry sectors, including aerospace, but the rate of adoption is accelerating. Aerospace 4.0, as it has become known in the sector, is set to bring major benefits in design, manufacturing, maintenance and logistics, right through the supply chain. Indeed, without it, the industry puts itself at risk.

DIGITAL EMBRACE Aerospace investment in smart factory operations is increasing as companies integrate new technology. Both manufacturing and maintenance (aviation’s huge aftermarket) will benefit. Many major players have been at the cutting edge of technology and innovation for a long time, and aerospace 4.0 technologies will be integrated into their strategy and operations without much fuss. But the impact is more significant down the line.

For example, advanced simulation software means that product design, development and testing time can be drastically reduced, handing an advantage to those businesses that invest in it. Big data analytics – crunching numbers in real time to monitor performance of any component – will enable predictive maintenance schedules with zero breakdowns. If all parts are precisely tracked, then production lines can be continuously optimised. Robotic automation, machine learning, 3D printing and augmented reality technologies are also all in the mix to transform the way aircraft are manufactured and maintained.

COMPLEXITY AND COMPETITION Aerospace has always been ‘big’. As a global industry responsible for the transportation of people and cargo around the world in ever increasing numbers, it is a critical piece of the globalisation jigsaw. Industry forecasts suggest that 40,000 new aircraft will be manufactured and delivered to airlines over the next 20 years. With a Boeing 747, for example, having six million parts that must be assembled, delivered and maintained, the scale and complexity is huge.

What is more, aviation solutions have to be safer, faster, more cost effective, more reliable, more connected and more environmentally-friendly, than ever before.

Aerospace is a competitive sector and in recent years more players have joined the game, as low-cost travel and emerging new markets, especially in the East, have created more demand and new opportunities. So there is now tremendous pressure on component providers within the supply chain to increase volumes and deliver them faster. This creates potential vulnerabilities – delays or shortage in one part of the chain has significant knock-on effects elsewhere, including ultimate delivery to the airlines. THE FINAL FRONTIER For scale, complexity, competition and many other reasons (meeting customer needs, for example, which requires design and production that is better, faster and cheaper), it is not a case of if aerospace suppliers adopt digital, but when. We cannot know whether the Mars-bound SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with its space-suited mannequin and electric sports car on board, will one day find a new home. But we can be certain that aerospace companies building earth-bound vessels are set to become pioneers of an exciting, digital future.

For more on how some of the sector’s pioneers view the future of aerospace, see the links below: [links out to YouTube] Alan Newby, Director, Aerospace technology and future programmes, Rolls Royce, on how RR is embracing Aerospace 4.0 Viewing time: 1’19”

Elon Musk on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Viewing time: 7’18 INNOVATION ON THE MOVE B&H Worldwide is a global leader in aerospace logistics. The group provides time-critical freight and management solutions to airlines, MROs (maintenance, repair and overhaul providers), and component suppliers.

These solutions are so successful that in 2017, B&H Worldwide received the coveted award of Best-in-Class Global Aerospace Logistics Company, from the Global Institute of Logistics, followed in January this year by another prestigious award, this time from the British International Freight Association (BIFA), in the Supply Chain Management category.

Established in the UK in 1988, B&H has grown into a multinational leader through astute investment and acquisition, coupled with a deep belief in the transformative power of innovation. The group’s commitment to technology led to the creation, four years ago, of B&H InTech, a wholly-owned, dedicated logistics technology company focused on meeting the current and future needs of the group, its customers and the aerospace industry. For example, its showcase software solution, Ontrack, is designed specifically to meet the demanding inventory and logistical challenges of aerospace customers. By combining first class service with technology, B&H has positioned itself as a clear market leader.

UHY SUPPORTS B&H WORLDWIDE To support the group’s global operations, UHY member firms have been working with B&H Worldwide since 2017, providing streamlined group audit and tax services in several jurisdictions, including Australia, Germany , Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the US. The consolidation is managed by UHY Hacker Young, London, UK. Current status with client, and if okay, which German member firm?

Australia – UHY Haines Norton (Sydney) Germany – Closterman & Jasper Partnerschaft mbB, Cologne Hong Kong – UHY Vocation HK CPA Limited Malaysia – UHY in Malaysia New Zealand – UHY Haines Norton (Auckland) Singapore – UHY Lee Sen Chang & Co United Kingdom – UHY Hacker Young United States – UHY Advisors, Inc

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