Digital Connectivity Essential for BAE Systems’ Factory of the Future

Written By: Jacqui Cook
  • 8/25/2021
  • Read Time : 3 min
BAE technicians viewing factory of the future from control room
BAE Systems, a global provider of advanced, technology-led defense, aerospace and security solutions, is building a “Factory of the Future” in the United Kingdom – and PTC technology is playing a key role in driving digital connectivity.

Engineers at BAE Systems have tapped into expertise from PTC’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform specialists to help connect its first-of-a-kind facility. Thingworx and Kepware software harvest real-time digestible data to help manage supplies, processes, and maintenance activities in the 40,000 square foot factory, with the platform connecting, accessing and controlling industrial data from different robots, autonomous robots, machines and intelligent workstations inside the facility.

This powerful control of data allows operators to create and view live data screens that support workflow planning and real time decision-making.

Intelligent connectivity is helping BAE Systems drive Industry 4.0 into its manufacturing capability and clearly demonstrates how UK industry is working collaboratively to drive efficiency and reduce the costs associated with building future military aircraft.

“We have intelligent workstations that deliver tools to engineers by autonomous robot before operators even know they need them,” Alex Griffiths, Senior Integration Engineer at BAE Systems, said. “Our challenge is to create the optimal production environment for aircraft manufacture, where we can switch from one short batch product to another – with minimal effort and cost in the process.”

He sees this effort as crucial as his company aims to develop the next generation of manufacturing technology required for Tempest, the UK’s future combat air system, and to meet the company’s commitments to deliver in half the time and at significantly less cost.

“It’s about changing the way we make things and moving away from traditional techniques, looking at how we can create production lines that can be adapted quickly to take on different products, whether that is a low volume unmanned vehicle requirement or a future fighter aircraft,” Griffiths said. “In order to achieve that vision, we had to ensure we had a connected, intelligent factory and this is where PTC brought real solutions to the shopfloor through the systems it provides.”

PTC has been working with various businesses within BAE Systems for over two decades and was uniquely positions to support their digital transformation.

“Data is definitely recognized as one of the most powerful tools when it comes to manufacturing performance and new process/product introductions. Controlling industrial data and using it intelligently has created the perfect environment to develop and test technologies that will potentially transform the way military aircraft and combat systems are implemented,” Griffiths continued. “It is also giving young engineers early access to IIoT platforms and software, which can only be good news for their career development.”

For more on the project, BAE's Griffiths was recently a guest on PTC’s Third Angle podcast to discusses the technology behind the Factory of the Future with PTC’s Dave Hughes.

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Tags:
  • Connected Devices
  • ThingWorx
  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Industrial Internet of Things

About the Author

Jacqui Cook

Jacqui Cook is a Senior Manager in PTC's Corporate Communications department. She has more than two decades experience of working with business journalists, establishing tight working relationships and producing factual content. She is descended from the originators of cricket, the UK national past time and has a strong passion for animals, in particular the British Bulldog.