In 2014, Aerosud Aviation was comprehensively restructured to ensure continued strong growth.
This included recognition by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of the business as a national strategic industrial asset, with the IDC investing in a substantial financial stake in the company to strengthen its capacity to increase and expand its production capabilities in accordance with the requirements of its principle customers Airbus and Boeing.
Aerosud Aviation has exceeded the objectives it set out to achieve two years ago, attaining an annual turnover increase of 67% since 2014, topping the R1-billion mark in the financial year to end-March 2017; a broad-based black economic empowerment rating of Level 4, from Level 6 in 2014; and a staff complement of over 600 people ñ all skilled in aerospace manufacturing.
R80-million has been invested, since 2014, in expanding the company's manufacturing capacity and developing new technologies, with a further R20-million allocated for expenditure in the current financial year.
The company is also currently engaged in a major project to integrate, upgrade and expand the operations of its subtier suppliers.
Aerosud Aviation is poised to become a leading participant as the 'anchor tenant' of the soon-to-be launched Centurion Aerospace Village project, located next door to its Centurion factory.
Subtier supplier development key to continued growth - Aerosud Aviation
South Africa's leading commercial aviation company Aerosud Aviation recently embarked on an intensive campaign to assist its subtier suppliers in accelerating the development of their production efficiencies and output capacities, along with upgrading skills.
Aeosud Aviation is a noteworthy producer and supplier of a range of specialised aeromechanical parts and assemblies incorporated into the top passenger aircraft models produced by Airbus and Boeing, the world's foremost commercial aircraft companies.
In recent years, the Centurion-based company has substantially expanded and diversified its operations to meet increased production and other requirements arising from rapidly growing global sales levels of Airbus' A320 and A350 and Boeing's 737 single-aisle aircraft.
Global sales of these aircraft models are projected to increase within the next two years by over 20% to 110 units a month, from around 90 a month currently.
Aerosud Aviation is the single-source producer and supplier of numerous A320, A350 and B737 aircraft parts, components and assemblies, ranging from thermoplastic and composite panelling cockpit and cabin interiors and continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP), as well as deep-drawn pressings for structural portions, such as wings and fuselages to sheet metal and machined components, and fully-equipped galleys.
'As our key customers are reliant on us, so are we on our subtier suppliers, which comprise about 17 independent enterprises that manufacture or supply specialised parts and commodities we require in our production and assembly processes. Their efficiency and production capacity are of no less importance than ours in ensuring that our commitments to our clients are fully met,' comments Aerosud Aviation MD Johan Steyn.
The subtier suppliers include companies specialising in machining of parts produced by Aerosud Aviation, manufacturers of jigs and tools requires in the company's manufacturing processes, electrical wiring specialists, a company responsible for all nondestructive testing of components and equipment produced by Aerosud Aviation, as well as suppliers of various specialised paints, adhesives and other consumables. In addition, numerous subtier companies are dedicated to the disposal and recycling of waste and by-products generated by Aerosud Aviation's production processes.
The recently-launched upgrade programme for the company's subtier suppliers, which is aimed at bringing them fully in line with Aerosud Aviation's quality standards and production levels, includes a thorough review of subtier suppliers' production procedures and core technical skills to improve efficiencies and reduce lead times. Aerosud Aviation also assists subtier suppliers where required in qualifying for and obtaining manufacturing and product certifications.
'We are providing a significant level of support and number of tools to achieve supply chain integration with our subtier suppliers,' Steyn says.
'The main tool we are using for this purpose to improve production efficiencies and speed up production rates in our own and our subtier manufacturers' plants, is a special custom-designed software program that is focused on production integration.
'It provides each subtier manufacturer a real-time view of our production priorities for the parts he/she is responsible for, thereby enabling him/her to integrate his/her operation with ours. Our raw materials and consumables suppliers are also plugged into this system, which represents a key advancement in our supply chain.
'It has enabled our suppliers to become an integral part of our operation, despite being located elsewhere ñ in some cases in a different part of the country,' Steyn comments.
Aerosud Aviation also recently arranged to transfer three key production processes onto South African soil. This move is in line with government's localisation programme, which includes developing new enterprises and strengthening the strategically important local aerospace industry.
'The decision to localise a complex metal fluidforming capability as well as a unique spot-welding capability is directly related to derisking and expanding capacity of the A320 supply chain. The localisation of thermal blanket manufacturing creates a real opportunity to support future enterprise development,' Steyn explains.
Centurion Aerospace Village complements Aerosud Aviation's objectives
The South African government is providing strong backing and assistance to the aerospace industry as part of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) in its drive to develop and expand the local commercial aviation industry and extend its global reputation.
The platform on which part of the expansion programme is based is Aerosud Aviation's status as a long-longstanding efficient and reliable producer of equipment and components for the world's top commercial aircraft, Airbus' A320 and A350 and Boeing's B737 models.
The first major step government took towards assisting Aerosud Aviation in developing and expanding its capacity and capabilities came in 2014 when the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) acquired a substantial shareholding in the business.
Other government initiatives directed at strengthening and expanding the local aerospace industry, in which Aerosud Aviation is the leading commercial player, comprise the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI) and ñ more recently ñ the launch of the Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV) project.
The primary purpose of the AISI, established and operated by the Department of Trade and Industry the dti, is to enhance the global competitiveness of the South African aerospace and defence industry by assisting in the development of their capabilities, including the transfer of technologies and forming partnerships to their benefit and advancement.
The CAV, an initiative of the dti, is currently being developed on a sizeable stretch of land next door to Aerosud Aviation's Centurion property.
'The aims of the CAV exactly match our own, so we are strongly supporting it and encouraging participation by all players and would-be producers and suppliers in the expanding aerospace industry,' comments Aerosud Aviation MD Johan Steyn.
'Like the comprehensive development programme we have launched to assist our manufacturing and subtier consumables suppliers to develop and grow with us, the CAV is being established to achieve similar objectives for the aerospace industry's aeromechanical subsector, in which we are a key player.
'The close proximity of the development to our factory further enhances the synergies we hope to establish between ourselves and many of the tenant operations, including microfactories, incubating newcomers and black-owned businesses, the CAV is seeking to attract.
'We see ourselves as an anchor-tenant of the CAV,' Steyn concluded.