Affiliations: Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland
Note:  Corresponding author: J. Butterfield, Lecturer, School of Mech. & Aero. Eng., QUB, Ashby Building, Stranmillis Rd., Belfast, BT9 5 AH, Northern Ireland; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Traditional business models in the aerospace industry are based on a conventional supplier to customer relationship based on the design, manufacture and subsequent delivery of the physical product. Service provision, from the manufacturer's perspective, is typically limited to the supply of procedural documentation and the provision of spare parts to the end user as the product passes through the latter stages of its intended lifecycle. Challenging economic and political conditions have resulted in end users re-structuring their core business activities, particularly in the defence sector. This has resulted in the need for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to integrate and manage support service activities in partnership with the customer to deliver platform availability. This improves the probability of commercial sustainability for the OEM through shared operational risks while reducing the cost of platform ownership for the customer. The need for OEMs to evolve their design, manufacture and supply strategies by focusing on customer requirements has revealed a need for reconstruction of traditional internal behaviours and design methodologies. Application of organisational learning is now a well recognised principle for innovative companies to achieve long term growth and sustained technical development, and hence, greater market command. It focuses on the process by which the organisation's knowledge and value base changes, leading to improved problem solving ability and capacity for action. From the perspective of availability contracting, knowledge and the processes by which it is generated, used and retained, become primary assets within the learning organisation. This paper will introduce the application of digital methods to asset management by demonstrating how the process of learning can benefit from a digital approach, how product and process design can be integrated within a virtual framework and finally how the approach can be applied in a service context.
Keywords: Organisational Learning, Availability Contracting, Through Life Management, Digital Manufacturing