The “5th Aviation Forum” was held at Hamburg’s CCH from December 8 to 9 under the auspices of the Airbus group. The topic of this year’s event was “Supply Chain Integration Challenges in Commercial Aerospace.”
The around 500 international participants were mainly representatives from the aerospace industry and its suppliers. Blue Yonder had its own booth, run by Peter Eck and Ingolf Mollat. Michael Feind gave a guest lecture on “How predictive applications can boost digital change!"
The first day of the conference kicked off with a fascinating tour of the Airbus factory in Finkenwerder. At the world’s third largest aircraft production plant, participants were allowed surprise access to the A320 and A380 production halls. The journey there sparked off some interesting discussions on the topic of supplier reliability in spare parts procurement (which run to millions for the A380) and dealing with unexpected production delays and stoppages.
The first lecture was a talk by Axel Flaig, Head of Research & Technology, Airbus. The main topic was how further savings and optimization in the aircraft industry can be achieved through innovation. Starting points include new types of turbines, and wing technologies as well as more efficient operation. Another speaker was Erik Goedhart, Senior Vice President Aerospace & Industrials, Kuehne + Nagel Management AG, who talked about current trends in supply chain management. More accurate “end-to-end” logistics from the manufacturer to point of use in aircraft assembly is needed.
On the second day, Michael Feind’s “Innovation Track” speech really stood out; while all the other talks dealt with improving materials or processes, Blue Yonder managed to make it clear that predictive analytics also have enormous potential. As one of the participant’s at the plenary session put it: “This was the most interesting presentation I have seen in these two days of conference!”
Overall the event made it clear that, unlike airlines, the aviation supply chain industry still hasn’t embraced the subject of big data. The need is there, and in bilateral talks, company representatives accept that need. But concrete solutions like those from Blue Yonder aren’t being used (yet), which means that there will be real “first-mover” potential in this sector.