The aerospace industry is using cutting edge technologies to AI, robotics, data analytics, and cloud computing to cut down costs and increase safety and reliability. Blockchain technology is the latest to catch the attention of the aerospace industry. With its features like availability of all information at one location, accessibility only for users of the blockchain, which ensures that the information is not available to competitors, Aerospace companies are exploring various use cases for the technology in areas like supply chain management, inventory management, etc. to improve overall operational safety and efficiency as well as reduce costs. Aerospace and Defense firms are expected to increase investment in blockchain technology to $8,134.56 Million by 2025 compared to $712.56 Million today.
Sparepart Lifecycle Management:
An aircraft consists of thousands of spare parts. Each spare part will have its maintenance history. Records are kept on paper or in digitized form. Information about a spare part’s history is regularly updated on a blockchain along with the name of the technician who repaired as well as proof of his educational qualifications. That will greatly help in Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) activities. Such records can also help in predictive maintenance as the time between two successive breakdowns can be averaged out. As all the information about a spare part is available on the blockchain, a user can check if any spare part is cover by warranty or not, and this will also reduce costs. Original suppliers of spare parts are also present on the blockchain. Thus, no sifting through old records or running from pillar to post to find suppliers for spare parts. The supplier can find on the blockchain, and the order can place to him. It cuts out vendors who act as original equipment suppliers. They will acquire the spare part from outside, add their profit and sell to the airline. But as a supplier, as well as the price of a spare part, is available at one location, the user’s time for acquiring spare parts as well as the cost is reduced. All this information can be made accessible to both maintenance personnel as well as the customer. Thus, the source of information is the same for both. That reduces the scope for disagreements and conflicts.
Supply Chain Management:
Whenever any part orders, there is an entire supply chain to take it from the vendor to the airline. Each link in the supply chain will have its share of paperwork; right from scheduling, manufacturing standards that the part will meet, progress in production stages, warehousing documents transportation documents, receiving documents, to its lifecycle usage. If any of the documents are missing, the spare part gets held up. That happens mainly in transportation documents as here the supplier has to work with an outside party, the transporter who has to coordinate with the government as well as the customer. Thus, a spare part may have met all the quality standards but still gets held up just because of one document. That causes unnecessary delays. If all the documents are on a blockchain and it is accessible to the supplier, transporter, and customer, then such confusion can be prevented. As the blockchain is the single source of information, duplication and hence the possibility of errors are eliminated. That is very critical for the Defense sector as Defense bases may locate at remote places around the globe. Thus, the cost of meeting a single delay or rejection is very high.
Sometimes documents detailing a part’s performance during its lifecycle are not maintained or lost, for example, logbooks. In a sensitive industry like Aerospace or Defense, sometimes it is felt prudent to replace parts whose records are not kept up-to-date. Thus, spare parts that are perfectly healthy and performing as per standards also scrapped. That can prevent if all records of equipment’s performance are recorded on a blockchain. This information cannot be altered and can be accessed by maintenance personnel to find out symptoms of problems encountered with the equipment previously. That will also stop unnecessary scrapping of spare parts.
Thus, blockchain can contribute significantly to increasing operational efficiency and supply chain management in both the Aerospace and Defense sectors.