Simulation testbed for the analysis of beneficial business strategies for the airbus A350 production ramp-up

The production ramp-up of new aircraft is characterized by high complexity and planning and control chal-lenges caused by complex product design, supply chain and production processes. In the past, this resulted in significant delays and increased costs of the production ramp-up. Novel business strategies and planning and scheduling technologies promise better production control and risk mitigation during the ramp-up phase. The European research project ARUM has developed those business strategies and a new distributed decision support solution based on knowledge processing technologies. A simulation testbed was used to identify the most beneficial business strategies and to evaluate linked control strategies for the industrial use case of the Airbus A350 production ramp-up. This paper discusses the potential of simulations for the business strategy definition and for the validation of linked control strategies from the industrial end-user perspective.

Motivation and Problem Description

Shortened development cycles have increased the number of production ramp-ups in the aeronautic indus-try. The complexity of the product aircraft, the pressure to introduce novel features and technologies like composite instead of aluminum fuselages and the shortened overall development time have led to a reduc-tion of the design maturity of the aircraft at the beginning of production. The pressure on suppliers – the share of external supply has increased to more than 80 percent for new aircraft programs – has increased the risks for a lack of maturity and supply chain disturbances. In contrast to other industries, e.g., the auto-motive industry, the production ramp-up for aircrafts starts without a pilot series. All the elements of the production, the tools and jigs, the production processes and the IT tools for the production planning and control, have to be tested and matured in parallel to real production for customers. Based on experience from former production ramp-ups like the Airbus A380 or Boeing B787 programs novel strategies and control solutions were developed and implemented for the Airbus A350 program to handle the resulting risks of disturbances and ramp-up delays.

This paper discusses the process of the definition of beneficial business and control strategies with a par-ticular focus on the use of simulations as part of this process. Along the production ramp-up different strat-egies have to be applied for different stages of the industrial ramp-up depending on the maturity, amount and quality of the disturbances. The overall goal is to avoid late deliveries of the aircraft to the customers as a result of the late or incomplete supply of assemblies, which results in traveling work to be finished at a later production stage and location. Complex scenarios, a high amount of uncertainties and multiple de-cision variables within the definition process require the support of simulation techniques , which must be built into the decision support IT solutions.

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