The challenges in aerospace and defense (A&D) firms are everywhere, from budget cuts for defense contractors to massive production backlogs for commercial aircraft manufacturers.

Behind each of these issues are complexities that hinder the effective design, innovation, and manufacturing of new products and services. In addition, A&D companies are facing critical workforce issues that are affecting their ability to hire, promote, and retain qualified people.

Consequently, many companies can’t respond quickly enough to the changing business and customer demands of this industry to get ahead of the competition.

So what is the answer?

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Streamline operations – and continue to innovate

To get – and stay – ahead of the competition, manufacturers must streamline existing operations and increase operational capacity. And at the same time, they must build aftermarket service business revenue, manage and maintain a changing workforce effectively, and develop innovative products.

Here’s a deeper look at these must-do realities that are needed for success:

  1. Achieve operational excellence. As A&D companies attempt to increase production capacity, they must start leveraging connected factories that integrate the manufacturing process from end to end. This approach optimizes production flow and improves product and process quality for a new level of operational proficiency.
  2. Increase shop-floor throughput. Hand-in-hand with operational excellence is the need to increase the throughput on the shop floor by leveraging mobile, wearable, and automation technologies. Innovative solutions in this area bring improvements to shop-floor execution and provide a real-time view of production with actionable insights for further efficiencies.
  3. Build new service and support businesses. Manufacturing companies have an opportunity to grow high-margin aftermarket business by introducing new service offerings. These added-value services, such as equipment health monitoring for example, can increase not only operator value and safety, but they can also drive greater output as well.
  4. Manage workforces effectively. As the demand for qualified workers increases, it’s important for companies to quickly attract, develop, and retain the next-generation of its workforce. To achieve this, one key is to provide newly recruited employees and contractors with proper training and easy access to information that reduces risk and drives the ontime delivery of projects.
  5. Increase product innovation. Manufacturers must continually enhance their product portfolios and deliver breakthrough innovations to grow revenue. One way to do this is to harness Big Data to respond to urgent market demands in related fields, such as the growing need for security and awareness solutions. A&D companies must think broadly and use their core expertise, combined with innovative technologies like real-time in-memory computing, to capitalize on these Big Data opportunities.
  6. Leverage business networks. To gain further traction in the highly competitive A&D market, companies must improve their internal business processes with initiatives such as reducing invoice approval times and eliminating billing errors and manual processes. These actions will help optimize cash flow and enable more profitable growth.

Take action now…

Leading A&D companies have already embraced these action steps and they are seeing significant results. In fact, many of the organizations that have done so will be sharing their successes at the upcoming SAPPHIRE NOW & ASUG event from May 5-7 in Orlando. In addition to presentations from key A&D customers, the newly released SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA will be featured on the show floor, along with other insights on how to run A&D businesses more simply. To learn more about the SAP for Aerospace & Defense solution portfolio, visit here.

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