Sometimes the less-sexy topics in aviation get relatively little coverage even if they deserve attention. Take online exchanges, for example. Several years ago, names like Aeroxchange, ESIS, Exostar, PartsBase and Cordiem were starting to break technological ground – and news – by boasting plans to support direct procurement.
Some died (Cordiem), some survived, (Aeroxchange), and some thrived, like Exostar, which has grown its customer base to over 40,000 and its users to well over 100,000 within those companies that are tied to the system. And, according to Exostar president and CEO Kevin Lowdermilk, the e-procurement exchange is about to see an explosion in growth.
Within the next 12 to 18 months, Exostar expects to see growth “that will be at least 50% in the companies leveraging the exchange and more than double the number of users” based conservatively on contracts underway today, says Lowdermilk.
The company’s new “trusted work space”, a network for secure multi-collaboration for aerospace and defence, is driving much of the growth.
This is a rosy picture, for sure, but I was curious – how did Exostar fare in helping part-owner Boeing reduce the supply chain risk associated with moving to a globally distributed manufacturing model for the Boeing 787, a model that has blatantly shown its instability (to be kind). After all, Exostar’s contract to enable the multi-tier supply chain strategy for the 787 program was much touted by both parties.
For what it’s worth, Exostar appears to have done its damndest to assist the airframer with supply chain visibility.”I would characterize it [Exostar] as providing a lot of value to Boeing,” says Lowdermilk. He adds: “Boeing is leveraging our technology to see multiple tiers in the supply base, and know whether they have an issue at a particular supplier at a component level well before they would have known.”
One wonders just how late the 787 would have been without Exostar.
Meanwhile, the eight-year-old company, which also boasts BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce as owners, is happy to keep on growing. Ownership remains the same, and Exostar has no plans for an initial public offering. “We’re a private company and that’s where we leave it,” says Lowdermilk.