The aerospace supply chain has been sluggish in bouncing back from the protracted effects of the Covid-induced slowdown. And this at a time when Boeing and Airbus are planning an aggressive ramp up of production in their narrowbody programmes and when the capacity to service the cabin interiors aftermarket is fast reaching its near-term limit. Many are asking whether the industry will be able to handle a full aviation recovery in 2023 with workforce numbers and resources that still languish at peak-Covid levels.
Aviation supply chains are notoriously complex and consist of many different types of suppliers, manufacturers and maintenance providers. No doubt, tight labour markets and limited component availability will spur further consolidation in the sector and accelerate efforts by the largest manufacturers to bring more of their supply chains in-house.
One particular problem that arises from the industry’s complexity is a lack of visibility in the processes of the supply chain. When one link in the chain falters, a dangerous domino effect can soon propagate through the whole of the chain. Better visibility throughout the supply chain can therefore allow manufacturers to react quickly when one node weakens and limit any collateral damage.
Indeed, businesses are fast learning how to model the impact of specific parts, operational or personnel shortages before they occur. Advanced tools such as those developed by Aerogility that employ artificial intelligence are coming into their own as a way of modelling and simulating many potential scenarios, including anticipating delays before they occur. Whichever tools are chosen, manufacturers need to prepare for and apply strategies to mitigate against planned and unexpected disruption – or expect to face an existential threat.
The pandemic fallout has caused significant issues for the aircraft cabin interiors segment but our cover story demonstrates that, while the supply chain situation remains challenging, having the right procedures, communication channels and creative thinking in place can allow any size of business to continue to produce pioneering products to the very highest standards of design and build quality.