Led by the National Physical Laboratory and sponsored by the Aerospace Technology Institute, the £15m ‘Smarter Testing’ programme will use existing physical test programmes to explore how novel inspection techniques can be used to predict product performance and identify failures early. According to NPL, there is an increasing drive for businesses to use data-driven simulations to replace physical testing, enabling engineers to accelerate product development. Other partners in the consortium include Airbus Operations, CFMS Services, GOM UK, Dassault Systemes UK and Liverpool University.
“The opportunity this project presents is huge,” said Airbus’ Steve Raynes, head of R&T Business Development. “It will be a real step-change in the way we approach an extremely costly and time-consuming part of a vital aspect of aircraft manufacturing.
“Simply put, we’re going digital across a number of aerospace testing and certification processes. When you consider that to date, a lot of this work has been done on huge physical test rigs which have to be built and maintained, you can easily see how having a digital representation in place of some physical testing can help save time and money.”
Transitioning to a digitally-focused manufacturing landscape will see an explosion in the volume of data generated, with trust in this data becoming ever more vital as greater reliance is placed on it. NPL will provide a link between product developers and the data analysts, providing test laboratories, developing novel test standards and applying advanced data science techniques.
“The direct benefit of NPL’s work will be the creation and adoption of the technology, skills and understanding needed to innovate and compete within digitalised product development supply chains,” said Gareth Edwards, strategy lead for Industrial Digitalisation at NPL.
“This will lead to the creation of new and higher skilled jobs that address the productivity challenge, a strengthening of supply chains within the UK and an increased competitiveness for businesses in the global market.”