Smart Manufacturing in the Aerospace Industry
Founded in 1939, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. is the only Swiss company that develops, produces, and sells aircraft to customers worldwide. With over 2,300 employees at its headquarters, Pilatus is one of Switzerland's largest employers. Pilatus trains around 130 apprentices in 14 different professions.
Balancing Safety & Productivity
In the highly competitive aerospace and defense market, companies like Pilatus need to optimize their productivity. Although the level of automation in modern aircraft manufacturing has increased significantly in recent years, specific production and assembly steps still require a great deal of manual labor.
Of course, there is no room for error in the production of aircraft parts. For an aircraft to take off and land safely, thousands of components are needed that must meet the highest safety standards as well as traceability and technical documentation requirements. Although the immense amount of paperwork required to build an aircraft has already been significantly reduced, there is still a lot of paperwork that lowers productivity and poses a risk of human error.
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. and Consulteer have entered a long-term partnership to fully exploit the digitization potential along the entire supply chain. The key projects Digital Workplace and Less Paper Platform are important pillars on the way to paperless workflows, simplified procedures, and fully integrated quality gates. In this way, we are making an important contribution to advancing automation and safeguarding relevant workflows.
Less Paper Platform: Going Paperless in the Hangar
Technologies: Microservice Architecture, .NET, angular
The Less Paper Platform enables one thing above all: maintaining high-security standards through guided assembly steps while increasing productivity. It helps to reduce the amount of time-consuming paper documentation to a minimum and to avoid human errors. In each production step, each assembly passes through a multi-stage testing and validation process. All test steps must be passed and confirmed manually by Quality Management before the next production step can be initiated. In the end, the final inspection and acceptance through the customer can take place at Pilatus.
From a technology point of view, the Less paper Platform is based on Microservice Architecture with Web-Frontends. The different production and assembly steps are implemented as dedicated services with clear domain responsibilities. The architecture allows a future flexible extension with additional features and integrations.
All in all, the Less Paper Platform automates quality gates and combines assembly- and verification processes in a reliable, digital build record.
Digital Workorder: Everything at a Glance
Technologies: Mendix (Low Code) with SAP and Teamcenter
The production of an airplane requires a tremendous number of orders and operations, e.g., from the production of a single detailed part, to the assembly of a wing to customized paintwork and finish. The Digital Workorder receives the work orders from the enterprise resource planning system (ERP) enriched with additional information from the design system, e.g., drawings and 3D models.
The Digital Workorder enables end-to-end digital order and shop floor management in manufacturing. It fully automates the division of labor throughout the entire value chain. All assemblies, components, and materials are linked in an ecosystem and their progress can be monitored at any time - from order release to the last operation.
Enabling seamless Workflows
Increasing efficiency while maintaining high safety standards is a top priority for aerospace companies. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. and Consulteer have proven that no compromise between safety, quality, and productivity is required.
The key benefits of the Less Paper Platform and the Digital Workorder are:
- Reduction of human errors through automated processes and quality gates
- Automated manufacturing records
- Improved traceability of assemblies & components
- Reduced paper consumption and time
- Increased labor productivity through more automation and less manual intervention
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