The Boeing Dreamliner aircraft has been in service for less than one year during which it has garnered a lot of press coverage much of it negative. It's performance so far has been anything but stellar and recent groundings have sullied the manufacturers' image. Yet, design and procurement folks in the electronics industry can learn from the superb product lifecycle management (PLM) strategy built into the Dreamliner's design and operation.
First, the Dreamliner has been recognized as a design and engineering marvel and is considered one of the most fuel efficient aircrafts in production. Additionally, it is the first aircraft to be produced using composite materials consisting of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, making it both lighter and strong than previously used products. Airlines love it because the Dreamliner gives them the opportunity to save on rising fuel costs.
For the electronics procurement community the Dreamliner has other appeals, though. The aircraft is loaded with monitoring devices and is able to send critical operating information while in flight to both the airline operating it and Boeing itself. In fact, a recent report by NPR indicate Boeing is constantly monitoring every Dreamliner plane while in flight and receiving information about its performance.
With so many electronics and sensors monitoring the Dreamliner’s performance maintaining the aircraft becomes a lot easier, according to a Boeing procurement expert interviewed by NPR. Andy Beadle told NPR the real-time monitoring of the aircrafts in flight meant he would have “replacement parts on hand even before the plane lands.” This is product lifecycle management (PLM) at its best.
“Getting a head start on things, it’s kind of a dream come true because I get four or five hours that I normally never got in the past,” he told NPR.
A lot of procurement folks in the electronics industry would love this. Now, we just have to figure out how and which electronic products can be designed and manufactured with this kind of intelligence at a competitive price.