Aerospace Documentation: Gearing up for a changing industry
03 June 2021
Documentation demands in aerospace are rapidly growing, just as manufacturing advancements continue to speed up production. Since businesses are naturally unwilling to slow their output of products, this demand is ultimately absorbed by the quality department – often at the expense of quality staff. Inspectors and engineers are increasingly expected to take on more responsibility than ever before to keep up with the flow of production, and the blame for any bottlenecks or holdups is often passed to them.
These swollen workloads have three important impacts:
Transcribing tolerance specifications or measurements (whether on paper or into a spreadsheet) has the frustrating quality of being both incredibly important, and incredibly boring. Expecting humans to avoid making human errors is like expecting an engineer to not take their pen apart just to put it back together – it’s inevitable. Telling inspectors to work faster and for longer hours is just asking for trouble.
Highly skilled and qualified individuals are wasted behind a desk. Boring experts to tears by relegating them to glorified data-inputters is no way to boost morale or retain the best employees.
No Time for Foresight
When the top priority of the quality department is always so immediate – ‘If we don’t complete this First Article Inspection Report in the next hour, the shipment will be late!’ – future plans can get stuck on the ground. Forced to be reactive instead of proactive, efforts to mitigate future risks are shelved in favour of immediate pressing concerns. Unfortunately, being reactive doesn’t stop problems from happening in the first place. How can you plan your next move if you’re concentrating on keeping your head above the water?
Benefit from automation
These issues will be familiar to anyone manually creating manufacturing quality documentation. However, out of frustration can come opportunity. Growing numbers of manufacturers are realising the benefits of automating their processes to avoid these negative impacts. Automatic form population and ballooning of specification drawings allow engineers and inspectors to spend less time trapped at a computer or with a highlighter pen in hand, giving them breathing room to prepare for the future and spend more time in their natural habitat - on the shop floor.
Introducing automation can also remove the threat of manual error, by catching mistakes early and avoiding unnecessary scrap that could threaten the business’ reputation and profitability. Importantly, by removing the heavy workloads and pressure placed on the quality department, the business benefits from a happier, less drained – and therefore more motivated – workforce.
Fortunately, the winds are changing in the aerospace manufacturing industry. The increase in documentation required by customers over recent years has shifted automated solutions from luxuries into necessities for any manufacturer looking to grow and attract new work. It is no longer uncommon to hear OEMs and other Tier 1 organisations contractually demand evidence of automated processes, or compliance with similar standards, such as AS9145 or AS9102.
A significant rise in automation within quality documentation processes is inevitable. All that’s left to see is which organisations will be ahead of the curve, and which will be racing to catch up.
Find out more about our Q-Pulse PM software which supports FAIR, PPAP and NPI processes, automating the tedious tasks and leaving you more time to focus on what you do best.