SME recently spoke with Tyler Rup, applications engineer at Lockheed Martin, to discuss automating the Digital Thread for aerospace assembly. He has five years of professional experience working in automation, metrology, additive manufacturing, and other advanced manufacturing technologies.
Rup is a featured presenter at this year’s AeroDef event.
AeroDef Manufacturing® is an aerospace manufacturing and defense manufacturing conference and exposition, showcasing the industry’s most advanced technologies. Speakers and presenters from the highest levels of government and industry will share their vision of the potential of technology, collaboration and public policy to transform manufacturing. Over the next few weeks, SME.org will share insights from some of the featured AeroDef speakers. To hear their full presentations, meet them face to face, and to experience the pairing of high-concept, integrated solutions with real-world applications, we invite you to attend AeroDef Manufacturing April 29-May 2 in Long Beach, California.
From having everything in hard copy, to now having everything in the cloud is one example of how disruptive technologies have really changed the way we live. What’s the one quality you believe manufacturers need to keep within their organization and within their people to remain competitive?
No matter how drastically the industry changes the one thing that all businesses will need to make sure they retain is flexibility. The ability to adapt to new challenges and continue to grow and evolve alongside the industry and technology will be the quality that keeps businesses going.
Given your unique insight, what area within the aerodefense manufacturing industry would you say has the most potential in the next ten years? And why?
I think the area with the most potential must be the whole idea of the digital thread and industrial internet of things. Especially when coupled with the breakthroughs that we are seeing happen constantly with technologies like automation, metrology, and ERP systems. Imagine a system where a business can scan a part as it arrives on their dock and store that digital information. They can then scan a second part at a totally different site and digitally assemble them to see how they fit. If there is a problem, maybe there is even some kind of machine learning algorithm that can analyze and recommend corrective action. This could all happen, and be addressed, weeks before the two parts are even in the same state. That will revolutionize manufacturing.
What kind of transformation are ERP systems going through and how will this transformation affect businesses’ way of doing things?
The capabilities of ERP systems are rapidly increasing in complexity and the scope of operations they are capable of handling is growing with it. Using these continuously improving resources businesses will be able to more accurately predict their business needs. This can lead to savings in several areas. From increasing the efficiency of production by keeping track of resource consumption to raw materials savings by allowing them to keep less material in inventory and deliver exact quantities at the point of use. ERP systems are transforming the usual approach to manufacturing allowing for more complex systems and products to be made at a lower price point.
How should the aerospace industry avoid becoming complacent about the ever-changing digital thread?
The digital thread is a crucial concept when it comes to manufacturing. Any business that focuses primarily on manufacturing, especially ones with complex supply chains, should be looking at the idea of the digital thread very seriously. One of the biggest hurdles however is the required infrastructure and the related costs. Setting up scanners, trackers, digital databases, or the other pieces needed for the digital thread to function can be intimidating. This is a technology that has already proven though that it is more than capable of paying dividends when invested in. This is an area that businesses should keep a constant focus on and make a discreet effort on a regular basis to enhance their capabilities and improve their technology. This is particularly true when it comes to the ever-evolving computer programs and networks being developed to run and manage the digital thread.
What’s the most important take-away you will dive into during your session?
As technology is continuing to evolve, take a look at the challenges that you have constantly faced. It is entirely likely that there is a problem that can now be solved using a combination of multiple technologies that would not have been possible before now.
Hear more from Tyler Rup during his presentation, “Automating the Digital Thread for Aerospace Assembly,” at AeroDef on Tuesday, April 30, at 2:30 PM in Room 203A.