White Papers

Outsourcing Aerospace Tooling Stress Analysis

“Teaming With Excellence”

Aerospace tooling companies are booming recently. Most major aerospace companies have made fundamental changes in their business structure in recent decades finding it more economical to outsource as much as possible and becoming system integrators. They have trained their buyers in the Walmart philosophy of squeezing out costs by outsourcing anything that someone else can do cheaper using the natural forces of market competition. Their role has become one of a system integrator, or in lay terms, a business where they focus on final assembly and pushing product out the door, outsourcing both hardware and services. Nothing escapes consideration, including the very fixtures and jigs for assembling the final aerospace vehicle. This fundamental change includes the largest of companies which produce commercial, business, and military aircraft as well as rockets and satellites. In response, hardware suppliers have responded by expanding or converting their own shop floors to design and build these final assembly fixtures and jigs. It’s the growing business of Aerospace Tooling.

Many aerospace tooling companies are former machine shops which have entered the lucrative aerospace market and expanded from manufacturing piece parts to building tools which are used to transport, handle, and build aerospace vehicles. Others are large existing corporations which have spun off whole manufacturing divisions to enter the aerospace tooling market, and have increased engineering head count to handle the design phase of their aerospace tool product offerings.

Important to how these tools are engineered is the fact that aerospace tools do not go into the air. The tools will never fly. They are earthbound. Factory personnel will be walking around and handling the tools, therefore potential for serious injury exists. This important fact is relevant because the design crosses over into the civil engineering arena in that human safety factors come into play. And just like bridges and buildings, professional engineering approvals are required. Designing the tools requires a sort of hybrid engineer, a classically trained aerospace stress engineer who understands the requirements for professional engineering approval.

In aerospace engineering, there is a distinction between a stress analyst and a design engineer. They may both be considered aerospace engineers, but the skills required of the traditional "design" engineer are very different than the skill set required to perform aerospace stress analysis. So even the most experienced tool design engineer may not possess the necessary training nor have the kind of experience required to write technical aerospace stress reports and perform finite element analysis. To be sure, the mastery of aerospace stress analysis requires years of specialized training, mentoring, and on the job experience. Furthermore, aerospace engineers possessing a PE license are a relatively small group. Finding this small group within an already relatively small group (aerospace stress analysts) makes the task of engineering these tools even more challenging for the company. In addition to hiring and keeping these specialized engineers, aerospace tooling companies find existing managers do not speak the same language as the typical aerospace stress engineer. Outsourcing the aerospace stress report task then becomes an attractive alternative.

The bottleneck within the aerospace tooling companies is the requirement to provide detailed stress analysis reports. Not only are aerospace stress analysts a relatively small work force overall, and as such they are also highly compensated. It is a skillset not easily accessible to, nor is it well understood by the typical tool maker company manager.

Using industry references and years of professional experience, aerospace stress engineers do their part by ensuring the tool holds up to the loads it is expected to withstand whether it be from stress, thermal, vibration, deflection, earthquakes, or rolling tip-over conditions. The stress analyst must be familiar with industry standards and these standards must be strictly adhered to. Access to this published material is usually by subscription, which must be periodically updated and can be quite pricey.

Detailed stress reports must be published using formatted templates acceptable to the aerospace end customer. The stress reports must be reviewed and approved by stress analysts within these big aerospace companies as well. Finally, once the stress report is approved, it must be reviewed and stamped by a licensed professional engineer with mechanical structures authority. To make matters even more challenging the P.E. stamp must be from the state where the tool is ultimately used. And the reports must be delivered on time. In the fast-moving aerospace manufacturing industry, schedules drive everything. Providing high-quality stamped stress reports in a timely manner becomes the bottleneck for aerospace tooling manufacturers.

All this is a daunting task for companies focused on the fast-paced work of aerospace tool design and manufacturing. Aerospace stress analysis can be somewhat of a foreign topic to tooling companies and many find a better option is to outsource this highly specialized work. But where do they go?

Speed Aerospace was recently sought out by a well-known player in the aerospace tooling business sector. It turns out that this highly specialized task is something Speed Aerospace is well suited for. They were founded to specifically provide consulting services within the aerospace stress analysis market. Speed Aerospace is a relatively new company situated in the Dallas Ft Worth area where aerospace engineering talent is readily available. Operating within the central time zone is convenient for their clients on both east and west coasts as the time differential is minimized. Speed Aerospace’s leadership is experienced in both aerospace engineering and product development consulting.

If you are considering outsourcing the task of stress analysis for your aerospace tools, consider "teaming with excellence" and contact Speed Aerospace.