Trends and challenges for aerospace suppliers


By Jennifer Ferrero

At the PNAA annual conference, two companies detailed trends and challenges in the aerospace industry for 2014.

gm_nameplate_aerospaceGM Nameplate – From reactive to pro-active

Paul Michaels of GM Nameplate, a Seattle-based aerospace company,  started seeing negative trends in manufacturing. He said, “20% of every order received is being asked for in 5 days or less,” Michaels noted – a term he calls “short flow”.

He said that with the rapidly evolving market, they were becoming highly reactive as a company. Customers were expecting faster turn-arounds for less money and he noticed that the methods of doing business were changing. People were relying less on traditional methods of communication and ordering. And, based upon Boeing’s metrics of measurement for suppliers, in the reactive mode, they weren’t ranking well.

He decided to turn the tables for pro-active processes.

By changing their culture and approach, they have fostered more success.

Some methods of change: 

  • Annual internal stakeholder presentations with a specific focus on asking departments for innovations
  • Rewarding employees with great ideas
  • Revolutionizing custom engagement with a key focus on the value of relationships (They invited customers into their facility to “audit” their practices and they listened to every idea. From that exercise, they changed many processes which affected a 25 % reduction in cycle times.

sogermaSogerma – an airline seat and parts maker for Boeing and Airbus

Sogerma delivered 1,200 airplane seats to Boeing and Airbus with on time delivery last year. A fact that Stephane Campion, VP and head of Business Line Aerostructure, is proud of.

The company, with plants around the world,  had 700 million in sales in 2013.

To keep pace with the aerospace markets, they have worked on the following:

  • Delivery – must be on-time with quality
  • Serve market growth
  • Innovate and overtake their competitors

Their roadmap includes:

  • Furthering innovation
  • Working together
  • Enhancing operational excellence and customer satisfaction
  • Opening up the world

Both aerospace suppliers have innovations and improvements that have impacted their bottom lines.

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About COEAerospace

The Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing of Washington state is a conduit for collaboration and engagement between industry and K-12 and post secondary higher education. We work to develop the talent pipeline and economic infrastructure to facilitate continuous innovation and growth for aerospace and manufacturing in our state and beyond.
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