2023 Predictions for Aerospace & Defense Product Development

December 8, 2022 Decoteau Wilkerson

aerospace & defense

As we enter 2023, Jama Software® asked selected thought leaders – both internal Jama Software employees and our external partners – across various industries for the trends and events they foresee unfolding over the next year and beyond.

In the second part of our five-part series, we asked Craig E. Miller, PhD – Principal Engineer at Ansys, to weigh in on product and systems development trends he’s anticipating in 2023.

Visit part 1 of this series, 2023 Predictions for Product & Systems Development Teams here. We will link the remaining 2023 Industry Predictions as they are published.

Read more about the author at the end of this blog. Note: The opinions expressed are those of Craig E. Miller, PhD.

2023 Predictions for Aerospace & Defense Product Development

Design Trends – What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in your industry right now? How will they impact A&D product, systems, and software development?

Craig E. Miller: The most common design trend — one that will continue in the short and long term — is identifying how a digital transformation can enable a connected digital thread. A connected digital thread enables an organization to realize efficiencies encompassing all design teams, how these teams exchange data, and how enterprises will exchange data. A&D companies that can weave the design digital thread with business will become industry leaders. The digital thread can significantly improve efficiency relating to supply chain, energy, and safety. For example, virtually certifying subsystems — to quickly add suppliers to approved vendor lists — can add flexibility to supply chains. Coordinating digital hardware design, embedded software, and data (from T&E and/or the field) can enable trade studies to optimize energy efficiency of complex systems and can identify failure modes and expedite design modifications on existing (and future) platforms for continuous improvement.

Biggest Challenges – What are some of the biggest challenges you think A&D engineering firms will be working to overcome in 2023?

Miller: Probably the biggest problem that A&D firms need to solve is balancing resource allocation. How do you fulfill your future digital strategy without compromising short-term production work? Another significant challenge is managing supply chains, as global conflicts and inflation threaten to disrupt them. I would also add workforce enablement and cross-pollinating primary engineering efforts across aeronautics, space, and cyber as important challenges with respect to maintaining a competitive edge.

RELATED: How to Realign Engineering Teams for Remote Work with Minimal Disruption

Regulations – What changing regulatory guidelines do you anticipate having an impact on companies in 2023?

Miller: Enabling virtual certification and coordinating virtual hardware design with software and data both require standards and regulations on virtual engineering. Such standards and regulations need to be coordinated among government, academia, and industry, and consortiums should start as soon as possible.

Tool Innovation – From an A&D engineering toolset perspective, what are some of the processes you think forward-thinking firms will be working to leverage or incorporate into their process, and why?

Miller: Aerospace and defense firms recognize that making the right choices, early, is the only way to succeed against the dual problems of increasing complexity and decreasing timelines. And one of the best ways to improve decision making is through engineering simulation standards, some of which are being developed right now. These standards should capture contextual metadata, facilitate collaboration, and make it easier to share knowledge within an organization — all of which contributes to faster, better-informed decisions.

It will be vital for the industry to support and adopt effective standards in the years ahead. And the challenge goes beyond development and adoption, because you have to manage the transition, too. In other words, if you adopt a standard without defining a clear path from “here” to “there,” you risk your teams developing ad hoc approaches, and that leaves you once again without a standard.

In your opinion, what are the biggest differences between an A&D company that survives to see 2030, and one that doesn’t?

Miller: The biggest discriminator has to be the ability to adapt to increasing complexity on shorter time-scales. These two pressures are everywhere, and they compound each other.

What advice would you give to new companies entering the A&D industry?

Miller: Take advantage of hard-earned wisdom and start with the right approach. Common traits of successful digital transformation initiatives are an open ecosystem, mission-centric alignment across teams, and a connected digital thread to facilitate and maintain that alignment. This is the what established firms are trying to achieve, but to get there they must contend with their legacy data and processes, as well as promoting a cultural transformation to enable this journey.

RELATED: Integrating Requirements Management with Planning and Checklist Processes for Aerospace Development

Predictions –

What do you predict for regulation in the A&D industry in 2023?

Miller: Certification for process and people. Regulation of training standards for people supporting a digital transformation. What coursework, certifications, etc. are required when matriculating from traditional design and manufacturing into modern environments? And this isn’t a question just for design and manufacturing engineers — it applies equally to management, to track that change process.

Will those trends still be prevalent 5 years from now? 10 years?

Miller: The trend of digital transformation will evolve for the next 5-10 years. There are many aspects of an A&D business that digital transformation will affect, and each will have its own prioritization that dictates the short- and long-term tasks to enable their digital strategy.

About the Author:

Craig E. Miller, PhD – Principal Engineer at Ansys

Craig Miller is a Principal Application Engineer with ANSYS Inc, where he leads several multiphysics simulation efforts for the Aerospace & Defense industry. Prior to ANSYS, he designed and analyzed a range of products, from nuclear reactors to fiber optic devices. Craig was a Graduate Research Fellow while earning his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland and earned his BS in Engineering Science at Penn State.

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