For Canadian electronics wizards Celestica, the path to the future joins legacy hardware with sophisticated stock control systems and careful technology selection to slash the cost of supporting out-of-production aircraft.
As defence and aerospace vice-president Jack Jacobs puts it, software capable of interrogating a far-flung supply chain is the key to anticipating shortages – in time for parts to be manufactured and delivered before they are out of stock. Critically, he says, parts for legacy aircraft can rely on obsolete chips or other electronics, where small volume translates into huge cost. So, to be capable of anticipating shortages is to give suppliers the opportunity to plan well in advance, allowing them to keep costs down and reliability of supply up.
Celestica started as a build-to-print electronics manufacturer, and has moved into build- or design-to-specification, working with OEMs to develop products that will be economical to support in small volumes over a very long product life cycle. In that regard, says Jacobs, aerospace is a polar opposite of consumer electronics, where technology lifecycles can be measured in months and economics stem from large volumes.
The company – with annual turnover of around $6 billion, including about $2 billion from Advanced Technology Solutions, of which aerospace is a part – has also invested heavily in a licensing business, where it takes on the responsibility for support of components needed to keep older aircraft flying. As Jacobs puts it, OEMs and their engineers are naturally more interested in the "sexy" work of developing next-generation products rather than supporting older equipment.
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Source: Flight Daily News