Taking Flight With Aerospace: The Power Of Digital

Market experts predict the world’s fleet of commercial aircraft will double in size over the next 20 years. This is due to increasing demand from growing markets like China. Industry leaders can secure their market share if they use an integrated approach to innovation and technology.

Faced with growing market demand, aviation companies are under pressure to speed delivery of new aircraft while implementing digital technologies to improve productivity and reduce manufacturing delays. The aerospace firms that are successful in these efforts will be able to stay within schedules and budgets, focus more intently on global expansion, and attract the best industry talent. But the road ahead is full of challenges.

The complexity of aerospace

The global impact of the aerospace industry is quite impressive. Last year alone, it provided the infrastructure to transport over 3.7 billion passengers. Aviation companies also delivered more than 1,800 new commercial aircraft, and launched 85 orbital space missions. Many of today’s innovations depend on technology coming out of the aerospace world. As an example, imagine smartphones without GPS capabilities, a technology developed in aerospace.

The digitalization of aerospace will drive innovation to produce smarter, more efficient aircraft. Already, modern planes can create over 0.5 TB of data for each flight, as input for next-generation services and groundbreaking 3D printing advances – targeting both primary and replacement parts – are enabling equipment manufacturers to better meet service-level agreements and increase uptime. More than ever, success depends on strong engineering to meet the highest quality and safety standards and a strong focus on the integrated approach to innovation.

Challenging traditional paradigms

Aerospace is one of the most regulated and controlled industries in the world and traditionally has not been made up of “rule breakers.” But innovation in this industry does happen when key players challenge their own business processes, then redefine those processes using an array of new technologies.

Two strong examples of this approach come from commercial aerospace manufacturing. Emerging player SpaceX has redefined the rules of space travel and transformed how payloads are sent into space, delivering an operational model with significantly reduced costs. In contrast, the well-established Lockheed Martin is relying heavily on technology, in the form of the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, to protect people and products. The company is also using a blockchain strategy to speed the discovery and solution of cybersecurity problems and has relied on 3D modeling for many years.

The economics of innovation

The aerospace industry has seen tremendous benefits from technological innovation. 3D printing, for example, has helped redefine the process and cost of manufacturing components. Recently, GE produced a 3D-printed 1,300HP advanced turboprop engine. But while 3D printing an entire engine is impressive, aircraft parts will gain the most from this technology.

With fleets always on the go, it’s difficult to anticipate what parts a plane will need and the optimal service location to store them. A grounded airplane can quickly become an expensive problem, with the estimated cost of a typical “B check” maintenance issue near $ 60,000 USD. 3D printed parts help avoid that scenario and improve fleet uptime and reduce costs.

The industry has also been an early adopter and innovator of IoT technology. Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) is the daily task of managing the upkeep of aircraft. Checking working systems and how they interconnect requires data gathering and analysis. Technicians, OEM parts manufacturers, and carriers tend to take a more reactive approach to maintenance. This leads to downtime, delayed flights, and aircraft on the ground (AOG) issues during busy airport hours.

IoT enables companies to launch predictive maintenance initiatives. Maintenance technicians gain an understanding of current known issues through available data. They can also see the time remaining until equipment failure. The maintenance techs then have enough information and time to make repairs before major issues arise.

Soaring with a digital core

Technology modernization, including cloud computing, is a top priority for aerospace. Most aviation companies operate in a hybrid environment. In this situation, cloud-based systems interact with on-premises applications, enabling companies to secure intellectual property while enjoying cloud benefits for traditional business applications, HR, and other things.

Aerospace companies that capitalize on the following strategic priorities will succeed in the changing market:

  1. Customer-centricity. Putting the customer’s point of view at the center of every decision is vital for success in the digital age. Providing tailored benefits, improving product performance, and outcome-oriented service models are key.
  1. Digital business networks. Enabling collaboration and leveraging knowledge benefits all business partners. Scalable and secure, many-to-many networks distribute critical, real-time business information across the network.
  1. Innovation. With even more technology embedded, OEMs aim to make products smarter, more reliable, and affordable for customers.
  1. Agile manufacturing. Advanced automation and integration provide data for process improvement and proof of compliance.
  1. New business models. New digital technologies disrupt traditional business models. The results include process evolution, new market opportunities, and new revenue streams.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Discrete Manufacturers: Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, High Tech, and Industrial Machinery. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Don’t dream big when taking on industrial or enterprise IoT

As inspiring as the phrase business transformation is, I’ve decided that when it comes to industrial or enterprise IoT, it’s better to start small. Most executives by now are well aware that you should begin with a use case, but what’s become more clear as time has passed and projects have failed is that maybe business transformation shouldn’t be your first goal.

Peter Zornio, chief technology officer at ‎Emerson Automation Solutions, says that in his experience, the operations guys in building systems or in a plant want a use case and an ROI, while the IT shops tend to want to install a platform so folks in the business can build their own applications on top of it.

“Tangible ROIs that are easy to see are great,” Zornio says. “Operational guys love that because they have to justify their spend, while the IT guys want to think big. These are the guys that 15 years ago convinced everyone to spend hundreds of millions on ERP systems.”

Zornio isn’t bashing ERP systems, but if you ask ERP buyers if that money was well spent, many of them wouldn’t really know. Which is why Zornio is a big fan of metrics when discussing IoT projects.

He’s not alone. Jason Shepherd, a senior director and IoT CTO at Dell, says, “Too many IoT projects start as science projects (e.g., “Wouldn’t that be neat?”) with no clear metrics for success.” You know what’s really hard to measure? Business transformation.

So if measurement is the key, how should you think about that? In some situations, a use case and the subsequent savings are crystal clear. For example, if you automate data collection that normally requires an employee, calculating the savings is easy.

But Zornio says other use cases, such as ensuring reliability, are more difficult. First you have to come up with the number of times a particular part or machine fails, then you need to figure out the cost to the production process or the team. You also have to factor in the cost and time it takes to make those repairs. Replacing a part that is commonly in inventory vs. replacing something that might have to be ordered will factor into those costs.

Those kinds of calculations are more subjective than calculating the cost of replacing a worker. You could debate how often equipment fails. Or how much it costs when it does fail, depending on what a company values. For example, downtime in one part of the plant might be relatively unimportant because there’s a backup or low demand during certain times of the year. So it’s always better to search for the obvious. Sometimes, the flamingly obvious.

“We had a customer come to us about monitoring pumps. There, the risk wasn’t downtime, but that when one of the pumps failed it tended to catch on fire,” says Zornio. “In that case, the ROI wasn’t about money saved as much as it was about deciding how valuable it was to the organization to avoid fires in their factory.” (That entire conversation has me thinking that an enterprising IoT systems integrator should scour the trade press for industrial disasters to find their next sales prospect.)

Assessing IoT projects’ value isn’t just useful for the companies buying into connected sensors or products. It’s also important for companies trying to build solutions for industrial and enterprise IoT.

That platform mentality is a common one in Silicon Valley, but it’s hard to sell. Especially if you need a deep understanding of specific industry data around costs and functioning of equipment. That’s why many of the big companies are teaming up with those in specialized verticals to pitch their platforms or services.

But again, it appears that success today is found most often in the smaller projects as opposed to the business transformations. Shepherd advises that when choosing a project to ensure that the use case is relatively straightforward so the company can get a “quick win.”

 “A quick win can grow into more advanced benefits, but don’t try and start with too much. For example, start with basic monitoring for visibility and then add analytics,”  he says.

We’ll talk more about what this means in future issues of the newsletter along with the challenges associated with making sure that your employees don’t sabotage your business goals—or the eventual business transformation itself.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Digital Twin of the Month: How turbines are taking over Texas

Our digital twin story this month is that of a wind turbine, used around the world to develop clean and sustainable energy; on some days it might even be free. During October storms in Germany these turbines generated enough wind power at the weekend to give consumers free energy,” meaning costs fell below zero where producers had to pay consumers to take extra energy from the network.

These towers dotting our landscapes can be found in surprising places. But no matter the climate, environment or wind turbine, we believe digital twins can help you get the most from this energy investment. The ‘twinning’ of wind turbines is especially important when considering the many external variables at play.

Big state is big “W”

Texas is known for oil. Its rigs and cattle ranches have long been iconic Texas images. But that might be changing. Texas is not only the biggest state in the Union, it’s also got the biggest appetite for wind energy. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Texas ranks #1 in megawatts (MW) of wind capacity (21,450 MW), amounting to 12.6% of Texas in-state energy production. Far behind and in 2nd place is Iowa’s 6,974 MW of wind capacity, one-third the wind capacity of Texas.

Windmills and engineer

Wind turbines are one of many beneficiaries of digital twin technology.

Wind is costly and competitive

Wind power is a good source of electricity because it’s a renewable source, simply and constantly replenishing itself. It’s also a costly and competitive engineering business that will require companies to leverage digital twins. There are more than 500 US manufacturing facilities, each looking for an innovative edge; blades, towers, and turbines, operating together, reach a staggering cost of $ 1.3m to $ 2.2m per MW capacity. Multiply that cost by the current Texas wind capacity of 21,450 MW and you’ve got plenty of reasons to use digital twins to keep your investment ‘spinning’ at peak efficiency. A typical lifecycle of a wind turbine is 25 years with 100% ROI (in terms of energy) in less than one year!  

Wind is complicated

Turbine efficiency relies upon five factors: wind power, altitude, air temperature, obstructions, and blade aerodynamics, all of which you can incorporate into a digital twin.  

  • Wind – There are four ICE Wind Classes (I, II, III, IV) and therefore many different product designs of wind turbines. Different regions have dramatically different wind speeds and require unique wind turbine specifications and designs.

  • Altitude- Higher altitudes create faster wind speeds along with fewer obstructions like trees, hills, buildings.

  • Temperature –  Near-surface air temperature changes the performance of a wind farm, resulting in more turbulence in the blade path and reduction in kinetic energy (KE). Power from a wind turbine can increase as the temperature drops. Colder air is denser and increases power output.

  • Obstructions – Complex topography can cause friction of airflow and turbulence, and turbulence can cause varying loads on turbines, which can make them to wear out too quickly.

  • Blade aerodynamics –  Blade materials, shape and angle of attack help improve lift for an airfoil. The rotor blades are mainly made of reinforced carbon-fiber plastics or glass fiber.

We cannot ignore the fact that wind energy comes with some political and environmental concerns in climate, sound, sight, and avian mortality. While some energy sources can be ‘clean,’ they cannot be perfect.

To learn more of how you can factor weather into building a better digital twin, visit our IBM Digital Twin page.  

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It’s alive!! 5 ways buildings are taking advantage of the IoT

After spending a few days at TRIMax immersing myself in all things around facilities management and buildings of the future, one thing was clear. I need to take my building out for a coffee and pick its brain. Our buildings carry so much information about how they are used and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities of what we can do with that data. It’s time to bring our buildings alive!

For many years, we’ve relied on our own interpretations of our observations. As we walk around a building, we may notice that our co-worker, Johnny, doesn’t come into the office very often even though he has his own corner office. We may get annoyed when we go to book a conference room but everything is taken – though they all appear empty most of the time. The frustration is real when you drag yourself out of bed at 6am to hit the hotel gym only to find all three machines are taken. What if we could improve that visibility and get the most accurate data possible?

Bringing your buildings alive

As we saw in the Kone video, it is possible for our buildings to either interrupt or improve the flow of our days. The applications span far beyond elevators and doors. Sensors can be infused in ice cream coolers, coffee machines, bathrooms, conference rooms, parking lots, and much more. Using the ice cream cooler as an example, consider the impact on a retailer if their ice cream cooler goes down on a hot day in July. That’s going to be a bad day for that retailer. But had they used IoT sensors and capabilities, this breakdown could have been predicted and prevented. In essence, we want our buildings to speak to us and the technology exists to make this possible.

“My sole focus is to bring your buildings alive” – John Smart, Program Director, Cognitive Building & Retail Solutions, IBM

Voice is the next big thing for smart buildings

“What if your building could listen and respond to your needs and wants? Voice is the next big thing in smart buildings.”  – John Smart, Program Director, Cognitive Building & Retail Solutions, IBM

Not only can our buildings talk to us, but we will also be able to talk to our buildings. Using the power of voice, we develop a whole new set of experiences for the employee. Imagine if you need a whiteboard for your meeting. You will be able to simply ask for it, your voice will be captured, and a service request is automatically generated.

Putting Watson in the walls

To fully optimize the capabilities of Watson, he really needs a place to stay. Since you will be optimizing your unused space, the only place left will be the walls. When we say Watson in the walls, we’re not talking about a new blockbuster hit, but rather the partnership we are working on with HARMAN.  IBM is working with Harman on My Personal Concierge, powered by Watson assistant. This is intended to optimize hotel stays and follow you wherever you are on your journey. Need to check if that elliptical in the gym is free without walking down? Check. Ran out of towels? Watson has your back.  Want to make a reservation for dinner at 7pm at the hotel lounge? No problem.

Update room vacancies in real-time

We’ve all been there. We need a conference room but everything is booked. We’re also all guilty of booking a conference room and then not needing it or using it. Do we take the time to cancel the room reservation? If you do, you’re a better person than I am. Most often, there is just a big discrepancy between what rooms are on hold and which are actually being used.

Watson Workplace Concierge can help update room vacancies in real-time. It uses the power of the device and the power of the IoT with little needed involvement by the employee. If you don’t show up to the room, you will get a notification on your phone asking if you still need the room. If you say no, it will automatically unlock the room for others to use. Similarly, if you leave a room mid-way through your reservation, Watson will ask if your meeting is complete and will free up the room.

Space occupancy tracking saves major headaches

The world of commercial real estate is very complex. There is a vast amount of space. In fact, there is 12B square feet in the U.S. alone; but only 67 percent is utilized.  How do we address this gap?

According to Susan Chace from Fidelity, having a strong space assessment depends on mobile tools and the ability to compare physical space to space information with TRIRIGA and make real-time updates as you walk the floor. Just walking around the building and observing is not enough and it is not accurate. Space needs can change daily and having technology in place to capture those changes can make all the difference in whether your space allocations are accurate.

Are you bringing your buildings to life?

The ability to capture key information from our buildings and use that data to optimize customer experiences, employee engagement, and your bottom line are very real. It was a hot topic at TRIMax this year and I look forward to seeing where 2018 will take us.

Don’t forget to catch up on all the activities you missed at TRIMax this year.

To see what others are doing with smart buildings, visit our buildings zone and facilities management hub.

To learn more about IBM TRIRIGA, visit the IBM Marketplace.


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