Digital Twin / Digital Thread capability drives asset performance, operational and financial optimization

GE Aviation launched the Configuration Data Exchange for the aviation industry, establishing an exchange of data to drive asset performance, labor productivity and technical optimization across the aviation ecosystem.

GE Aviation and Capgemini, will jointly deliver the configuration data exchange, a real time dissemination and integration of digital twin configuration data and digital exchange of essential operations, maintenance, environmental and event information.  Press Release

In basic terms, this can be thought of as a data thread or pipeline that will allow for two-way asset data flow between airlines, MROs, lessors, OEMs and parts brokers that will be agnostic to the various IT systems of record. 

The civil aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and military sustainment markets are estimated to represent a $134B USD industry and 15-18% of aircraft operator’s direct costs, not including asset lease costs, impacts from delays and cancelations, fuel or customer good will.

The International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) and the Aviation Working Group (AWG) estimated the economic impact of dissimilar technical requirements and regulations over a 20-year period (1989-2009) exceeded $7.28 billion USD globally. Future costs could exceed $500 million per annum with projected fleet growth over the next decade.

Airlines for America (A4A) estimated that the cost of delays and cancellations (consisting of increased expenses for crew, fuel and maintenance, among others) to the North American civil aviation industry to be $8.3 billion USD annually (not including customer good will, demand or loyalty costs of ~$2.2B), 17.8% of which is directly related to equipment and maintenance issues. Extrapolated globally, this equates to an aviation industry impact of $5.3 billion USD annually related to asset issues. Integration of the MRO ecosystem and digitalization of the paper and pdf that hinder efficient, effective and timely exchange of operational data have long been identified as a key barrier to reducing operating costs and improving asset utilization. And while capturing and processing aircraft sensor data and fault codes has been performed for years, there is a considerable information gap with respect to maintenance, environment and flight operations data.

Anyone can insert a debit card into an ATM anywhere in the world to get their balance and withdraw cash in a matter of seconds. But for a lessor or operator to find a specific maintenance record for a return could literally take months,” explains Ray Stetter, vice president for Capgemini’s North American aviation practice.

There are major inefficiencies in the management of data generated within our industry,” said Jim Daily, vice president and chief digital officer for GE Aviation. “Through Predix, the configuration data exchange will bring disparate systems together to provide future insights and will help to reduce the $4 billion annual spend on manually managing data within airlines.”

Working together to bring configuration data exchange to market, GE Aviation signed a teaming agreement on November 14th with Capgemini. The two teams are working together on customer engagements and Capgemini will provide implementation services bringing its aviation experience to help accelerate adoption and business process improvements with our mutual customers.

Aircraft operational and financial performance is optimized through various digital analytical solutions working across a digital twin. To enable this digital twin requires two enabling building blocks, virtual configuration management and a digital thread.

Virtual configuration management over the service lifecycle of an asset includes both the logical configuration of how an aircraft type, model and series is engineered (“as-designed”), structured and functions, combined with a digital representation of how each specific aircraft’s physical configuration is actually being operated (“as-operated”) and maintained (“as-maintained”).

The digital thread is the two-way real-time data communications flow covering asset-specific, context-specific transactions between the virtual configuration, physical assets and the multitude of people, companies and systems that touch an aircraft, engine or component.

The Configuration Data Exchange is agnostic to the various maintenance software systems of record used by airlines, maintenance organizations and lessors.  It leverages the investments the industry has made in full content lifecycle management via ASD S1000D, mobility, and will accelerate the interlocking ASD S5000F configuration digital exchange standard and data translation capability.  These innovations will move maintenance data, content data and sensor data from an aircraft and systems of record to another federated systems of record via GE’s Predix platform.

Only about half of airlines leverage aircraft and engine condition monitoring solutions today and even less have employed any elements of predictive maintenance,” Stetter said, “with data growth reaching over 100 million terabytes per year in the next decade and current generation MRO software’s inability to leverage this data, new approaches are no longer a luxury.  We believe this solution could reduce an airlines costs by 0.15-0.20 cents per ASM not including any impact from fuel savings.

Today’s news follows the announcement of Capgemini’s Digital Manufacturing Services offer launched earlier in 2016, to support manufacturing clients in building smart connected plants and products, and adopting new business models for the digital age.

GE and Capgemini have a twenty-five year history of collaboration and innovation.

Capgemini has five decades of aviation, aerospace and defense client experience and domain business, engineering and technology knowledge and expertise.

Capgemini has completed dozens of Predix development projects and has empowered a trove of over 700 developers to-date.

Capgemini is a Global Strategic Partner in the GE Digital Partner Program having built a stand-alone Predix practice to sell and deliver GE solutions and continues to name leaders globally to the GE alliance and delivery practices.