Aerospace today wouldn't exist without outsourced, precision-engineered components. Unlike most land vehicles, almost no modern aircraft are designed, constructed, and tested entirely in-house. Due to the sheer number and diversity of disparate aeroplane, spacecraft, satellite, and helicopter components, aerospace manufacturing typically relies on a scattered production chain of outsourced commissions, to design and build each separate part to fit a grand overall plan.
Each aerospace engineering company contains specialist engineers and specialist equipment, to build the best possible interlocking, modular designs. The role, speed, complexity, and propulsion method of each craft determine what is outsourced to where. But why is aerospace set up to work in this way?
Dealing With Complexity
Aircraft contain fastenings, seatbelts, hydraulics, optical overlays, scientific instruments, fabric interiors, metalwork, polymers, exterior shells, interior architecture, pressurised systems, audio/visual equipment, and heavy doors. Unless the precision engineering company you have in mind is a major conglomerate, it simply isn't possible for one business to handle absolutely everything. Outsourced precision engineering allows for consistently excellent quality to be achieved across the production chain.
Every part used in an aircraft has to be traceable to its point of origin. In the event of an accident, crash, or part failure, the manufactured part responsible has to be assessed for any flaws or errors that might have led to the problem. Time intensive quality control also has to be performed to in-depth, exacting standards on every component made. With life-and-death machinery in play, there's no margin for error. Design flaws as small as a millimetre misalignment of a sensor, can result in an entire production run being scrapped.
Outsourcing manufacturing makes the complicated process of checking and assessing aircraft parts easier and more effective. Through placing the construction of specialised components in the hands of the experts, the finished aircraft becomes stronger than the sum of its parts. It makes it easier to keep track of who made what, and when. Mass in-house data logging is expensive, time-consuming, and can prove difficult to collect together in one place.
Outsourcing part production chains also means that a faulty component run can be quickly and successfully revised to the right CAD standards, while other modules are still being tested, assembled, and shipped.
Aircraft design relies on a technique called a 'sealed layout' for repeatability and safety. Once the design specifications and method of manufacture have been finalised, the layout is 'locked in'.
This means that no further revisions can be made to the parts, materials, and architecture of the aircraft without a full overhaul of the main plan. Once locked, aerospace companies must continue to use the same external and internal suppliers to make each part listed to order.
Outsourcing is used with sealed layout designs to ensure a high level of repeatability in part manufacture. Dividing the work between a group of small-scale, professional engineering companies ensures that they have the time and expertise to concentrate on producing identical production runs. Of course, this ensures the aerospace engineering companies picked have a virtual monopoly on part supply until the model plan is revised again. For that reason alone, it's important to pick trustworthy, dedicated, and reliable manufacturers to outsource your precision engineering to.
Find Out More
At Hone-All, we manufacture a wide range of aerospace and defence components, specialising in CNC-tooled metals. Our manufactured parts include rotors, actuators, and landing gear components for all types of aircraft. Call or email us today for a dedicated quote.
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