Aerospace and defense parts must meet rigorous manufacturing standards. They have complex specifications, and undergo custom processes (e.g. plating, hardening, heat treatment) across multiple borders and supply chain tiers. Companies are leveraging the power of automation and streamlined data exchange to document the many different substances and materials parts are made with, both within the final product and in the process of manufacture.
Manufacturers must be able to report on product composition in response to an ever-widening range of legislation and pressure from regulatory bodies, investors, NGOs and clients. In the last five years, numerous product compliance, corporate social responsibility and trade regulations have been implemented, each with their own data and reporting requirements.
Many of these regulations share commonalities with flow-down Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement requirements, which are mandatory to maintaining contracts with the United States Department of Defense, the largest purchaser of aerospace and defense products in the world.
Failing to respond to these regulations through a comprehensive supply chain due diligence and data management strategy can leave you vulnerable to financial risk. However, there are several barriers that interfere with the ability to acquire quality data, including:
- Uncertainty about which optional substances were used in the process of manufacture.
- Complex data retrieval.
- Complex parts contain several sub-parts, each requiring independent documentation.
- Legacy data stored on out-of-date systems that don’t integrate with modern solutions.
- Unclear technical design authority.
Simple Solutions to Complex Problems
Industry has responded to the supply chain data challenge. Trade associations such as the International Aerospace Environmental Group (IAEG) facilitate collaboration between some of the largest companies in aerospace and defense. They publish tools to streamline the format companies use to acquire data, including the Aerospace and Defence Declarable Substances List (AD-DSL) and the Aerospace and Defence Substance Reporting Template (AD-SRT).
The AD-DSL was designed to help companies respond to any global regulatory requirement impacting the aerospace and defense industry, including the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. It provides a list of substances subject to supplier reporting, prioritizing them by length of product term in anticipation of various reporting requirements.
In May, the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC) published the IPC-1754 standard with sponsorship from the IAEG. IPC-1754 is an XML-based standard that enables end-product manufacturers to streamline data exchange throughout the supply chain, allowing them to acquire declarable substance data and roll up responses from the bottom of the supply chain.
Companies that don’t utilize the IPC-1754 standard can still provide standardized data through the AD-SRT, a manual reporting template for part manufacturers to communicate parts data.
Automating Data Acquisition
Many companies are partnering with supply chain data management solution providers to build cost efficiencies into their compliance processes and make it easier for suppliers to provide data. Doing so allows them to perform due diligence through the same solution that catalogues, centralizes and manages all product data from one interface.
Some of the characteristics companies look for in a solution include the ability to:
- Import and organize part hierarchy.
- Validate supplier responses.
- Track campaign performance from dashboards.
- View and report on product composition down to a multi-tiered material level.
- Pull reports at the touch of a button.
- Leverage a database containing hundreds of thousands of compliance contacts.
- Provide an efficient method of response through a token-based supplier portal.
- Collaborate with regulatory leaders, standards development committees and industry associations.
For more information on the case for data automation in the aerospace and defense industry, Assent Compliance provides a free whitepaper, “Requirements for an Aerospace and Defense Product Compliance Program.”