Astrium Deploys Collaboration Solution

European space company seeks competitive edge by tapping supplier input early in design process

San Jose, CA September 9, 2002  European space company Astrium is deploying a collaboration solution from Centric Software in a bid to gain competitive advantage by involving its suppliers earlier in the design process.

Astrium, a joint venture between the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company and BAE SYSTEMS, works on a variety of civilian and military space projects, including telecommunications systems and launchers. The company had revenues of about $1.9 billion in 2001 and employs 8,400 people in Europe.

The company is deploying Centric's Innovation Management solution to increase collaboration with its supplier network in the early stages of the design process. Centric asserts that key benefits of the deployment should include more innovative designs through leveraging the supply chain early in the process and reduced prototyping costs.

"Maintaining our position at the forefront of the highly competitive space industry requires that we continually innovate our processes and implement solutions that enable us to maximize the capabilities of our entire team," said Bernard Foch, Astrium CAD/CAE group manager. "With Centric Innovation, we significantly increase our competitive advantage by leveraging our supplier network at the onset of new projects and managing the development process through synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, which enables effective management of project activities."

Jack Maynard, research director for collaborative enterprise solutions at technology consultancy Aberdeen Group, has said that manufacturers that are able to collaborate with their extended value chains from the onset of development will gain a competitive advantage because they can maximize these partners' innovations. "Centric Innovation provides this competitive edge, enabling manufacturers to make informed techno-economic decisions and balance their innovation portfolios," Maynard said.

The ability to manage its geographically dispersed projects and leverage domain expertise throughout the design process with its strategic suppliers were key factors for Astrium when it decided to implement Centric Innovation, according to the solution provider. Using the software's synchronous and asynchronous collaboration capabilities, Astrium was able to partition a design while synchronizing developments.

This solution's collaborative decision-making forum allows Astrium to incorporate supplier innovations as design information is exchanged throughout the development process. In addition to ensuring that everyone is "on the same page," the software also enables the team to collaboratively validate total product functionality, perform "what-if" analyses and identify optimal product decisions.