Page 8 - IACC Newsletter June 2013 Issue 11

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Innovation in Aerospace Manufacturing
Dr. Vivek Lall
President & CEO
New Ventures
Reliance Industries Limited
Aerospace and defence sector represents, in my view, the kind of advanced manufacturing that India needs to succeed
in the new global economy. Technologies employed for manufacturing for A&D are cutting-edge and really do set the
bar for where sectors and industries need to go in this country.
The aerospace industry will continue to grow and it is estimated that in the next 20 years, the global aerospace industry
will build 30,000 new airplanes, translating to $4 trillion of activity. Does India have a chance to take its fair share of that
economic activity? The answer is Yes, if the industry can collaborate with each other, governments, academia and R&D
institutions. Aerospace manufacturing is actually a very collaborative kind of activity – Research institutes, universities;
colleges just need to work together much more effectively with the industry on an on-going basis. We need a
mechanism to establish links with both industry and other universities worldwide, which will place us in an extremely
strong position to produce first class aerospace research.
The introduction of new materials and technologies used in aerospace to reduce environmental impact and the desire to
reduce total lifecycle costs mean that in order to remain competitive, manufacturers must innovate to boost
productivity, reduce manufacturing costs and adapt to the new methods required to produce complex components from
new materials and at the same time improving product quality and consistency.
It is well understood that in the case of aircrafts, sustenance costs work out much higher than acquisition costs. A
significant portion of an aircraft’s life-cycle cost comes after it leaves the factory floor. Costs such as fuel /energy
consumption, maintenance and replacement of equipment or parts, consumables and disposal, all contribute towards
the life-cycle cost. In my opinion, innovation in manufacturing should be directed towards reducing maintenance cost of
an aircraft or platform. One typically thinks of designing for easy maintainability. As we get into a multi-disciplinary
optimisation environment, increasingly, the lines between design, manufacturing and maintenance blur.
We need to put innovation at the centre of everything we do. Innovation is not unique to one sector of our economy. By
focusing on innovation, our companies and our economy can always be on the cutting-edge of competitiveness. That’s
where our entire economy has to strive toward.
To quote Norman Augustine, there are three fundamental ingredients of technological innovation:
Knowledge capital - the creation of new knowledge, new ideas, through basic research.
Human capital - Taking the results of that basic research and translating them into products and services
through world-class engineering.
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