Moog Inc., an aircraft-parts manufacturer has manufactured and delivered a part to Air New Zeland Ltd. within a few hours. The combination of blockchain and 3-D printing helped the company to achieve this impressive feat.
While the aircraft parts industry is a large one, it’s highly regulated. Safety concerns demand that manufacturers obtain appropriate certification from regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
A market research report states that the market for commercial aircraft aftermarket parts will reach $51.14 billion by 2026. The report forecasts a CAGR of 6.6%.
Given the safety concerns in the industry and associated certification requirements, the manufacturing and distribution processes tend to be slow. Paperwork-intensive order management processes add to the time taken.
Needless to say, the manufacturing processes in this high-value industry are complex too. The net result is that the aircraft parts industry faces several challenges like supply chain, cybersecurity, etc.
3-D printing can address many of the manufacturing-related challenges in this industry. This technology offers faster production, easy accessibility, better quality, cost-effectiveness, freedom to customize, etc.
While 3-D printing can certainly help with the manufacturing aspects in the aircraft parts industry, the industry needs to do more. It must become more efficient in various management and administrative functions.
The aircraft parts industry needs the right technology solution for this, and this is where blockchain assumes importance. Blockchain can significantly boost efficiency with its decentralized network, distributed ledger, transparency, and robust security features.
The security features of blockchain help to prevent tampering of data, moreover, its distributed ledger makes information-sharing easier. Smart contracts running on a blockchain network can improve contract administration with their immutability and transparency. This makes the move by Moog Inc. important.
How Moog used blockchain and 3-D printing to deliver an aircraft part faster
Moog Inc., an American company headquartered in Elma, New York, USA designs and manufactures motion and fluid controls and control systems used in sectors like aerospace, defence, industrial, and healthcare. It’s a key player in the aircraft parts industry.
The company has introduced 3-D printing to build aircraft parts on-demand from digital blueprints. Moog has also started using blockchain recently. The company intends to cut down the time required for buyers to locate a part and buy it, and this is where it will use blockchain.
Moog recently tested the solution involving 3D-printing and blockchain. They worked with Air New Zealand Ltd., the flag carrier airline of New Zealand.
In this test, an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300 was flying from Auckland, New Zealand to Los Angeles, USA. The aircraft needed a replacement part for an in-seat screen, and the maintenance team of Air New Zealand needed to place the order from New Zealand.
The team in New Zealand used VeriPart, the blockchain-powered system introduced by Moog to order the part. This blockchain system validated the order, subsequently, Moog printed the part in its 3D-printer in Los Angeles.
Moog delivered the part in the Los Angeles airport and it was installed in the aircraft once it landed in Los Angeles. While it can take weeks for airlines to get replacement parts from suppliers, it took only a few hours in this test.
Moog is using the Microsoft Azure Cloud to host its blockchain-based system. Microsoft has integrated VeriSol, a smart contract verification solution on the Azure Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform. Given this, Moog has certainly made a robust choice of the managed cloud services provider.
Blockchain has a high potential in the aircraft parts industry
Blockchain can efficiently share a digital ledger of transactions and trusted manufacturers. It can also securely host key information like material used for aircraft parts, therefore, blockchain has a high potential in the aircraft parts industry.