UK Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing: challenges, solutions and delivering success

Technology is moving fast. Outsourcing can overcome 4 of the biggest challenges facing the UK aerospace and defence sector.

In 2020, the UK aerospace, defence, security and space sectors’ contribution to the domestic economy was £79 billion according to ADS. Last year, Deloitte estimated that the global defence spending would cross the $2trillion mark for the first time. Despite this growth, the aerospace and defence manufacturing industry continues to face tremendous pressure from the resulting disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

4 of the biggest challenges facing UK aerospace and defence manufacturing companies

1. Environmental sustainability is a must

COP26 in Glasgow deepened the focus on sustainability and the role that businesses need to play in protecting the planet. It must be at the core of everything companies are looking at from here on out to ensure they deliver social value and meet sustainability targets. Strategy & UK-PWC identified three areas that will present particular challenges for the aerospace and defence sector: Net Zero, diversity and supply chains.

Beyond the announcements of overarching Net Zero targets, companies need to take a closer look at their operations, suppliers and even customers to ensure their operations are as green as they can be, and at least as environmentally friendly as they say it is across their supply chain.

Outsourcing aerospace and defence products to support sustainability goals

Outsourcing to the right partner can support your Net Zero goals and add resilience and sustainability to your supply chain by providing:

  • Design support to ensure sustainability is considered at the start of the process
  • Supply chain solutions that ensure supplier accountability and compliance as well as optimised material usage and eco-friendly material and packaging selection
  • The opportunity to nearshore and localise operations to reduce carbon footprint
  • Energy efficient manufacturing sites and processes that rely on data to drive down consumption of natural resources and reduce environmental impact
  • Aftermarket services that extend product lifecycles enable recycling, re-use and ensure appropriate end of life disposal

2. Achieving growth in current market conditions: Balancing growth and investment

Since the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, the macro environment has challenged manufacturers. For many, restructuring, cost reduction and supply chain transformation have been strategic areas of focus. Increased funding announced by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2020 continues to provide opportunities for many, as will an increased focus on space and disruptive technologies. Time to market and cost advantages can be found by fully embracing Industry 4.0 and innovative new technologies that will change how companies design, develop and manufacture their products.

Outsourcing aerospace and defence products to deliver smart growth

Investing in smart factories, increasing manufacturing footprint or even adding development engineering teams may not always be a practical option if costs need to be reduced. Not going it alone and choosing to outsource development and manufacturing:

  • Opens up additional capacity for defence manufacturing companies
  • Delivers flexibility to companies to ramp up production quickly without the need for expensive capital investment or additional manufacturing footprint. Providing a level of security, an ability to cope not only with surges in demand, but also to navigate more challenging periods
  • Can provide cost benefits and generate cash to re-invest
  • Delivers access to new technologies, approaches and expertise, whether that is automated workstations or the use of cobots or the application of Design for Excellence (DFX) to bring your complex products to life

Committed to overcoming the challenges you face in the aerospace and defence sector

3. Increasingly competitive and challenging labour market

Engineering UK’s ‘The State of Engineering 2020’ discussed the need to develop a ‘bigger picture’ perspective of the challenges facing defence engineering. Of those surveyed, 90% of respondents believe there is a national skills shortage and more needs to be done to identify collective opportunities for improvement. This problem won’t be solved overnight. Greater focus on STEM, links with universities as well as diversity and inclusion programs are required to cultivate an environment that will retain, attract and widen the talent pool available and ultimately support defence product development.

Outsourcing aerospace and defence products to access new talent

  • Choosing to outsource can provide either burst support to cover a specific need, such as redesigning an existing product or a represent a long-term strategy where your partner becomes an extension of your own team to reduce your time to market. It allows you to move past talent shortages. Finding a partner that has the right culture when it comes to diversity, inclusion and talent development will support your sustainability efforts

4. Rising geopolitical tensions increasing cyber security risk

Alongside Maritime, Land, Air and Space, Cyber is one of NATOs five operational domains. A rise in tensions around the world, both on the ground and online, means advanced security technologies play an increasingly critical role in our lives. From cyber security and counter-terror intelligence to mass transit, aviation and border security, we all rely on products and processes, and the companies that create them, to keep us safe; to protect identities and to monitor, detect and prepare for threats against both data and infrastructure.

Outsourcing aerospace and defence products: make sure cyber security is front and centre

  • When choosing to outsource, you need to have the confidence that your partner understands the critical importance of protecting your data and has the right processes in place to deliver this effectively. Cyber Essentials Plus demonstrates a baseline knowledge, but working on sensitive or secret projects will require an in-depth knowledge and customised approach

Outsourcing aerospace and defence products: opt for the right partner to overcome these challenges

We’ve strategically located our engineering and manufacturing facilities in key regions throughout the world. Whether you need a UK based solution to supply the Ministry of Defence, the UK national security services – or bring a mission-critical product to market while reducing its carbon footprint, we have you covered in Scotland. We’re more than the UK’s largest contract electronics manufacturer. Our Livingston site is home to our innovative Design Center and rapid prototyping solutions, while our Kelso site provides New Product Introduction (NPI), manufacturing and Aftermarket Services. As part of a global team of more than 20,000 individuals, our Scottish team includes over 500 experts who are aligned to give you a single, dependable product development experience. We’ll get you to market on time, and are focused on getting the details right for you, because we know what it takes for you to be the best.

End-to-end solutions for innovative defence product development in the UK. Click the banner below to read more about our UK sites.

Outsourcing can provide a solution for space, aerospace and defence product development – allowing aerospace and defence manufacturing companies to navigate the challenges the sector is facing. A decision of this magnitude isn’t made lightly, but with the right partner in place, it can ensure ongoing success and deliver a competitive advantage.

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