Air New Zealand has teamed with components and systems provider Moog, Microsoft and ST Engineering on what it claims to be a world-first experiment to transform aerospace supply chains.
The effort uses 3D printing and Moog’s blockchain enabled VeriPart digital supply chain system to create a "point of use, time of need" digital supply chain.
It goes like this: Air New Zealand ordered a digital aircraft part file from Singapore-based ST Engineering; the digital file was immediately sent to an approved 3D printer, operated by Moog in Los Angeles and printed before being installed within hours on an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300.
The part installed sits behind the airline’s business premier monitors and prevents the screen from damaging the seat when it’s pushed in.
The entire transaction, from purchase to installation, was logged in Moog’s VeriPart system, which is powered by Microsoft Azure.
“Being able to 3D print certain components on the go would be transformative and drive significant efficiencies and sustainability benefits," said Air New Zealand chief ground operations officer Carrie Hurihanganui.
"Rather than having the cost associated with purchasing, shipping and storing physical parts and potentially having to fly an aircraft with an unavailable seat, this system would allow us to print a part when and where we need it in hours."
VeriPart is used for assuring data, process, and performance integrity of 3D printed parts for aerospace applications. Its blockchain platform allows an engineering partner to release its intellectual property in a controlled way.
The airline is only able to 3D print the number of parts it requires on demand and the newly printed part is securely authenticated and traceable.