Supply chain digitalisation. Creating a more innovative, competitive and sustainable digital ecosystem

23 September 2021

A second training session organized by Leonardo and ELITE for Leonardo suppliers on how to address digital transformation, one of the three development guidelines of the Leonardo Sustainable Supply Chain Manifesto

On Tuesday, 14 September, “Digital Collaboration: Creating a Digital Ecosystem”, took place. This was the second of three workshops - organised through the ELITE Leonardo Lounge - for entrepreneurs and top managers of Leonardo’s key suppliers., This workshop is focused on how to leverage new technologies to create a “collaborative digital ecosystem” to accelerate the development of new products, improve supply chain synchronisation and enhance the services offered to customers. The series of workshops is part of a roadmap designed in line with the Be Tomorrow-Leonardo 2030 strategic plan and the objectives of the Leonardo Empowering Advanced Partnerships (LEAP) Program, the innovative supplier management model implemented by Leonardo to foster the capabilities and technological excellence of its partners.

Giacinto Carullo, Leonardo Chief Procurement & Supply Chain Officer, opened the event by underscoring Leonardo’s strong drive in terms of “technology and innovation, starting with development through digital twins, to the world of manufacturing and quality management using new 4.0 technologies, to supply chain collaboration through full use of the potential of the platform AirSupply.” He then described the digital journey that Leonardo’s Procurement & Supply Chain is implementing on two levels: digitisation of internal processes, and collaboration along the supply chain. He added that the digital supply chain “will allow us to improve visibility of our customers’ needs, process them, and immediately transfer information to our suppliers and, potentially, to our suppliers’ suppliers and thus to the second-level supply chain. It’s immediately clear just how much potential there is here in terms of synchronization, flexibility, and lead time reduction.”                

Paolo Rostirolla, Leonardo Vice President Supplier Sustainability & Development, provided an overview of where the Italian supply chain is today in terms of digital maturity, using data from an assessment of over 500 suppliers: “What emerges is a widespread awareness of the importance of including digital technologies in business strategies, with 70% of suppliers having introduced Industry 4.0 programs at least experimentally, and 75% collaborating with Leonardo digitally through AirSupply, but with only 30% doing so at an advanced/integrated level, although these numbers are rising rapidly.” He explained that the workshop aimed to “demonstrate the potential of optimizing each business process through digital technologies, and how it is essential that data is shared/transferred across various corporate functions to create a tool for analysis and strategic decision-making. Benefits are amplified when this information can be shared with customers and with one’s own supply chain, creating a digitally integrated, more reactive and overall more competitive ecosystem.”

Francesco Rogo, Leonardo SVP Product Development & Digital Engineering, then underscored how crucial it is for the company to increase its value chain by expanding digital collaboration with its supply chain. He discussed the role of digital twins, which allow for unprecedented levels of interaction: “Data and the digital model today are the backbone of Leonardo’s vertical integration within its ‘core’ processes: engineering, manufacturing, customer support services, but it will gradually become a decisive element also for horizontal integration with our supply chain, in both the conception and implementation phases.” Further evidence of the strategic nature of this topic is the creation of the Digital Engineering organisational unit, which focuses on the digital acceleration of core processes.

Danilo Cannoletta, Leonardo (Aerostructures Division) SVP ATR Line of Business, then provided a concrete example of 4.0 industry transformation: the reindustrialization of the ATR production line at the Pomigliano d’Arco plant with the goal of creating a centre of excellence for aeronautic structures, including narrow-body aircraft. He particularly focused on three facets: “The first is the ‘model based definition’, i.e. including within the models all technical information that can also be used on the production axis. We then adopted the idea of ‘part to part’ to minimize difficulties in the assembly phases with benefits for the wellness and safety of workers; and lastly, automation processes, which must be properly calibrated based on the various production processes while maintaining focus on the centrality of individuals. The “heart” of the project is the PLM data repository, the real backbone allowing for the modelling and simulation of products from a digital twin perspective, which then sustains other Leonardo systems and allows for integration with the supply chain starting from the design phase and continuing throughout the entire life cycle.”  

Bain & Company’s Expert Partner, Giampaolo Volante, and Manager Data Science, Fabio Priuli, also spoke at the workshop, describing the direction that major players in Aerospace & Defence in the Industry 4.0 sector are taking, with focus on potential application in the field of advanced manufacturing and operators’ empowerment. Gellify Managing Partner, Francesco Ferri, focused on supply chain and logistics, emphasizing the advantages of digital collaboration and explaining the roadmap to implement it along the supply chain. Wrapping up the event was Antonella Scotese, attorney from law firm Studio Grimaldi, who addressed issues of financing of digital and green transformation projects in view of European funding and the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The topics of sustainability and green transition were discussed at a the supply chain’s first workshop of the year in July, while this upcoming December a final session for Leonardo suppliers will address op