Assembly in Action: Aircraft Gets Orderly With Software
Building the world's largest passenger aircraft is a daunting task for Airbus (Toulouse, France). The new plane, the A380, is scheduled to go into full production in 2005. The wings are being assembled in England, the fuselage in Germany and the cockpit in Spain. But building the plane was made even more difficult because of the company's global manufacturing operations and its increasing database.
"We faced a serious problem when Compaq announced that it was not going to develop NT on the Alpha platform. This meant that our upgrade strategy was virtually negated," says Martin Allen, information technology manager for supply chain and manufacturing processes at Airbus. "We were experiencing 50-gigabyte growth in the database a month, and we needed a strategic storage solution."
Airbus decided to change its hardware platform. It chose Hewlett-Packard Co. (Palo Alto, CA) as its vendor, with Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC-El Segundo, CA) providing consultancy and hardware implementation, and SAP UK (Feltham, England) assisting in data migration to the new HP-UX platform.
Availability was a key issue for Airbus UK, so CSC installed the new equipment in the aerospace company's nearby Bristol Data Center.
SAP's Advanced Planning Optimization, a key component of mySAP supply chain management software, extracts information out of Airbus' national systems and provides a consolidated view of the assembly line at each of the company's production plants.
Previously, offline backups had caused considerable disruption. Downtime could be up to 12 hours. Using Hewlett-Packard's XP256 disk technology and CSC's Unix backup design, off-line backup now only interrupts the service at night for 10 minutes once a week. Online backups are performed with no disruption at all. Processing speeds have also improved. Batch suite programs that previously took 9 to 10 hours to run are now completed in less than 40 minutes.
"The XP256 gives us a lot of the benefits we were after. Also, we now have much higher availability and full disk mirroring," says Allen. "The system supports more than 1,000 users at any one time, and they are much happier with the service we are getting now than the one we had before. The system is not down so much, and it has halved the response times for transactions."
The first phase of the Airbus project was completed in June 2003. Having greater control over the supply chain should help ease the pressure of producing a finished aircraft sometime in 2005.
For more information on computer hardware, call 650-857-1501 or visit www.hp.com.
For more information on consultancy and hardware implementation, call 310-615-0311 or visit www.csc.com.
For more information on data migration, call 44-870-608-4000 or visit www.sap.com/uk.