Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Last week Anywise team members travelled to Paris to attend the Paris Airshow 2017. As our work with the SME community in Australia is leveraging much of the shared experiences of UK industry groups, we were invited to see collaboration initiatives first hand. Along with the UK based Valuechain team we were collocated with the Northwest Aerospace Alliance.
First impressions of the show were that it is much much larger than Avalon and in some ways a more focussed event. Our discussions throughout the event were with Primes, SME and industry alliance and clusters getting an understanding of what has worked well and what has worked not so well in collaboration in the European aerospace sector, particularly for SME and manufacturing companies.
It seems many of the collaboration initiatives faced or are facing the same challenges that we are at home. Having data at the fingertips of the cluster managers that properly describes capabilities and capacities is a real challenge. Fostering a collaborative framework (Such as BS11000) can also be a challenge as it requires a significant leap of faith from those intending to open the kimono and expose both opportunities and risks. Also of note was the interaction between Primes and the SME, while it is clearly a relationship that brings great value to both the Prime and the SME in its supply chain, the road can be rocky. In particular for the SME that has significant peaks and troughs of cash flow when much of its work is project based.
So what did we take out of it?
Primes that understand the supply chain and the resident risks and opportunities within it, tend to share the responsibility of continuous improvement and value the endurance of its SME members. They tend to look for opportunities to lower the cost of doing business and remove barriers of entry, look for opportunities to reinforce SME when order rates are low, integrating them across projects to ensure they maintain and improve their capability. They also actively encourage collaboration and communication between the SME in the network.
SME in the supply chain that are most successful tend to be those that have very niche expertise or technology. That does not mean that more general offerings are not successful or attractive, but in that group, it is the SME that chase opportunities to work with other companies to provide a more complete or sophisticated solution to Primes that are doing the best. Even for those specialist companies, those that collaborate early find integration vertically within the Prime and horizontally across programs and markets.
Industry alliances and cluster leaders are providing a real, tangible role to facilitate and foster collaboration among their members. Many have invested in professional development, resources and collaboration infrastructure (Working hub spaces, shared offices, collaboration portals and ICT systems). In addition to providing the what to the SME community in terms of the tools to collaborate, they also actively get involved in the how. Providing teaming, collaboration and facilitation support for members. This spins off focussed IPT style teams of members from within the alliance into powerful clusters, in turn generating sophisticated solutions and winning and delivering more work.
We have connected with some great clusters in the UK and look forward to connecting the dots for Australian companies as our work with Valuechain UK continues.