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Product Data Management Growth within Aerospace

Product Data Management Growth within Aerospace


The growth of Product Data Management from my Aerospace perspective, Andrew Wall, Head of Project Data Management UK, Airbus Defence and Space

For most of my career I have struggled with the concept of locking data and making it robust enough for the next element in the value chain, my early career was based on a non-digital paper based design environment, which meant you only had to have a stamp on whatever bit of paper you had access to. If you didn’t have the right bit of paper or it came without a stamp you couldn’t use it. Simple right, except that it wasn’t, people strived to understand the system and then to by-pass it in the most efficient way possible. Enter the Product Data Management era, now it would be a lot faster right! In actual fact people then found a paper based way to by-pass the electronic system.


Enter PLM, all data and all changes available at your fingertips across the lifecycle with the status of all change activity no matter where you are in the value chain, perfect right, except that for more than 10 years I have been on the receiving end of PLM solutions and yet we are still basing design, production and even verification decisions on paper based tools and processes, and by-passing with paper if needed.


My personal life is now almost completely digital, including that sacrosanct element, my finances, we socialise more on line than we do down the pub. But in my work environment we are using our terminals, laptops and even phones to show us the paper based document at the latest status……….Have we really moved on!


It seems we have merely extended what we do with the same bits of paper into the electronic world and no more, the paper used to be copied and distributed and managed by an army of administrative support, now we have removed the army, but in essence we do the same, albeit in a different format and language, but the “paper” document is still the master (and yes I am aware of MBSE). And to add complexity to it we are trying to work with external partners and customers instantaneously sharing all whilst retaining our own IP. We are trying to work with evolving design concepts as we go into production, trying to balance the extremely complex design maturity with schedule demands to deliver more with less time and less people. Am I a cynic?


Now I am not saying it isn’t better, we are managing far more with far fewer people, which is an industry objective, but are we being “smart “ where are the next gen. tools?


*The views expressed in this blog are the views of Andrew Wall, Head of Project Data Management UK, Airbus Defence and Space and do not reflect the views of Airbus Defence and Space or any of its affiliates.

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