The Canadian aerospace manufacturing industry is poised for sustained growth, as long as businesses keep up with changing international trends, which include the demand for lightweight manufacturing materials, automated manufacturing porcesses, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
As identified through ‘A Jetstream of Trends’, an aerospace manufacturing report published by Canadian Metalworking, Canadian manufacturers have enjoyed competitive advantages over international competitors, but these advantages are slowly slipping away. Its conclusion is that to maintain innovation and increase productivity, manufacturers need to develop/adopt advanced technologies and processes.
The industry’s outlook is promising, however, there are still challenges that businesses face when trying to grow and prosper within this sector.
Canada’s Aerospace Manufacturing Industry Trends
Aerospace manufacturing, and all manufacturing sectors for that matter, are being transformed at a blistering pace due to advancing technologies. More than ever before, manufacturers need to be at the leading edge of innovation to fulfill customer requirements. This revolution is causing some manufacturers to be displaced, however, those who are willing to keep up with the change are witnessing profits grow faster than ever.
Technology trends will continue to influence the Canadian aerospace industry for years to come.
Lightweight Manufacturing Materials
Vehicle lightweighting is widespread among the automotive industry because consumers are demanding greater fuel efficiency. The aerospace industry is no different; with companies requiring lighter and more fuel-efficient aircraft, materials used during construction must be adapted or developed to meet market demands.
Composite materials used during the manufacturing process are becoming increasingly popular. High-temperature alloys (such as titanium) and stainless steels are becoming the primary input material for many manufacturers, who have also needed to adopt innovative technologies to process it. Despite the cost, being able to satisfy market demand has significantly greater benefits and provides significant return to manufacturers.
Automated Manufacturing Processes
Reducing human labour in lieu of machining products doesn’t just cut costs, it can also help reduce variability and waste associated with rework. Aerospace manufacturing has become so advanced that much of the work needs to be done with highly-advanced machinery. If left to human cutting or welding, defect rates increase and customers may become less satisfied with the product/process.
Automating this process through advanced manufacturing equipment will help reduce cost and improve quality. Now more than ever, manufacturers are relying on technologies such as 5-axis CNC machines that can perform multiple processes without changeover or human intervention of any kind. This improves manufacturing speed, reduces variability, and leads to higher profitability in almost all cases.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
Although there are other applications for unmanned aerial vehicle technologies, UAVs are mainly purchased by governments and used to provide surveillance/ gather intelligence. As the capabilities of this technology improves, there will be a greater need to manufacture UAVs and deploy them more widely.
Manufacturers should note this trend and become a leader in the development of UAV technologies. Performing research and development projects has a wealth of benefits, from improving the skills and abilities of employees to commercializing new innovations. Few aerospace manufacturers devote significant capital towards R&D projects; this is a missed opportunity for many who could be leading the way and establishing new competitive advantages.
Source: Mentor Works