If your company operates in the aerospace and defense industry, you already know how much this manufacturing segment has changed over the last couple of years. But, for those of you in need of a refresh on where the aerospace and defense industry stands, here is a look at the state of the aerospace industry in 2015.

Interestingly, many of these trends have a direct correlation to the need to improve quality across the entire industry.State of the aerospace industry in 2015
Aerospace continues to diverge from defense

In the past, you may have noticed that IQS (along with a majority of manufacturing software vendors) has grouped together aerospace and defense as two sides of the same coin. Given sea changes in the global economy since the Great Recession, which have greatly affected manufacturing on a worldwide scale, take the time to think about how much your company has had to adjust to new market realities. As a result of a new global economy, aerospace and defense sectors are continuing to diverge from one another, which greatly favors commercial aerospace manufacturing as defense struggles to adjust.

Commercial aerospace cleared for takeoff

From a high-level perspective, global economic conditions continue to brighten the outlook for commercial aerospace manufacturers. In fact, a great article, “2015 Aerospace and Defense Trends,” co-authored by industry gurus Randy Starr, Jono Anderson and Jim Adams, can give you a good breakdown on what has changed. Interestingly, the piece points to challenges facing suppliers as production rates take off.

How will tier-two and tier-three suppliers find a niche before it is too late? According to Starr, Anderson and Adams:

“Steps should be taken to limit the fallout from a supply chain disruption. For instance, tier-one and tier-two suppliers can invest in flexible increments of capacity, perhaps through partnerships with other suppliers. This may be a more prudent approach than ramping up capacity, which would leave suppliers overexposed if demand falls.”

This advice is sound, wouldn’t you agree?

Defense struggles to differentiate

On the other hand, you can take the challenges facing the defense sector as further proof that the global economy is far from “out of the woods.” If you follow politics, you already know how high defense spending and cost cutting have been on the government’s agenda. Regardless of your political leanings, you can most likely agree (along with many, many other industry pundits) that as government military spending declines, so do the defense sector’s profit margins without cost-cutting initiatives.

In fact, Starr, Anderson and Adams suggest that defense should become more like commercial aerospace over the next couple of years. Here is a very poignant quote from their article:

“Defense companies must imitate non-defense outfits in building or expanding capabilities that will enhance efficiency and drive quality and production process gains…Defense companies would be wise to embed a lean mentality in other areas, including engineering. For example, increasing on-time delivery of products generated by engineers, such as drawings, analyses and specifications, and improving first-pass yields.”

As you may have anticipated, quality management once again steps to the fore as a key to improving efficiency and cutting costs.

An update on AS 9100

You can expect the newest version of ISO 9001 to be released in September 2015, according to industry expectations. Soon after, you can expect the latest version of AS 9100 to be available in the following months, so as you can see, the latter months of 2015 will mark the beginning of a new era of compliance management.

However, you should not expect too many major changes in the latest version of AS 9100. Pundits expect AS 9100 to clarify how the standard defines objectively reviewed criteria, for instance. Think of record keeping and procedural documentation as two sections that could have certainly used more clarity in older versions of AS 9100. AS 9100 Compliance and IQS

How EQMS can help you adapt

Enterprise quality management software (EQMS) enables you to raise quality to the next level. If you operate in aerospace and/or defense (since these two segments continue to split), EQMS can help you find the very efficiency gains in supply chain management and risk management you need to keep your company ahead of industry trends.

Over the next few years, the amount of data available to manufacturers will reach gargantuan proportions. For example, think about how much more data your company would generate (and need to manage efficiently) if you began to leverage Web-enabled sensors to collect data constantly, creating a never-ending stream of intelligence.

If you need to improve visibility and find ways to cut costs, EQMS may very well be the tool you need to do your job right the first time. Take the state of aerospace industry in 2015 as further proof that continual improvement and process discipline should still be high on your agenda.