Embracing digital transformation to meet massive growth
Airbus’ design, quality, performance, safety, and comfort set the standards for aviation. With about 25,000 daily flights, Airbus aircraft are taking off or landing every 1.4 seconds. To meet the needs of the growing aviation industry — expected to double customers in the next 15 years — Airbus needed to significantly ramp up aircraft production while decreasing costs and improving efficiency in a sustainable way. Since the company's legacy systems could not support this massive growth, Airbus needed to revolutionize its approach to IT — transforming this manufacturing company into a technology company.
Rethinking IT to transform the business
Airbus required a complete overhaul of its IT strategy, including:
- Implementing an enterprise-grade API platform to enable digital transformation at scale
- Building a library of reusable APIs to speed up development time
- Leveraging APIs to unlock data in backend systems and expose to suppliers, employees, and internal and external stakeholders
- Streamlining the supply chain to meet growing production pressures
- Delivering self-service mobile applications to improve manufacturing team efficiency
Unlocking the power of data with APIs
Airbus needed to adopt new technologies that would enable the company to be agile and secure, and deliver new solutions to market faster. To meet this goal, Airbus formed a team within the IT department called the “Digital Accelerator,” with the mission to apply digital technologies to transform the way Airbus builds aircraft. One of the Digital Accelerator’s first decisions was to implement Anypoint Platform to drive digital transformation and enable an API-first strategy across the organization.
“MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is one of the Digital Accelerator's critical building blocks,” said Chris Taylor, VP, Digital Accelerator, Airbus. “MuleSoft is an enterprise platform that applies to all our product lines, and is truly global.”
With MuleSoft, the team is building a library of reusable APIs which can aggregate data from multiple backend systems and make it accessible and consumable to deliver real business value to multiple stakeholders.
“Anypoint Platform allows us to rapidly unlock the data in our legacy platforms,” said Taylor. “We can use the data to optimize our manufacturing and supply chain processes, and ultimately optimize our aircraft.”
The APIs developed through Anypoint Platform put critical data in the hands of employees on the front lines. Previously, shop floor operators had to rely on physical workstations to access key information about airplane parts, plans, and project status. The constant back-and-forth from workstation to shop floor – plus the fact that the production team did not have a real-time, consistent view into their projects – caused significant delays in the manufacturing process.
Using MuleSoft, Airbus built an application that shop floor operators can access from their personal mobile devices to gain real-time visibility into parts and projects. Through APIs, Airbus unlocked data from cloud and on-premise systems – including multiple SAP systems like SAP S/4 HANA and Skywise, a customer big data platform – bringing this valuable data together to reduce time to market of new aircraft.
“MuleSoft allows us to give employees on the shop floor direct access to data to make better, faster, educated decisions,” explained Pierre Bornancin, API Team Lead, Airbus, adding that a shop floor operator can scan barcodes on aircraft components and quickly gain access to relevant information––speeding up the process.
“We also use MuleSoft to collect supply chain data and provide real-time visibility to all stakeholders,” Bornancin explained. “Before MuleSoft, we had no real-time visibility of part status.”
By taking an API-led approach, Airbus is reusing the same APIs built for the mobile app to provide data to other stakeholders.
“We're providing that very same data to our airline customers,” added Taylor, “so they can develop and deploy applications on top of our open APIs or other open platforms, safely and securely.”
Delivering IT projects 4x faster
With this new approach to creating a composable enterprise, IT is moving from the back office to driving critical change that will impact the entire business, and ultimately deliver more value.
“With fast data access, MuleSoft empowers us to improve how we manufacture aircraft, and how we deliver our customer experience,” Taylor said.
By easily developing and reusing APIs through Anypoint Platform, Airbus streamlines the development process and cuts time to market for IT services.
“Anypoint Platform allows us to reuse APIs at much greater scale across the organization,” Taylor confirmed. “MuleSoft enables our developers to search, discover, amend, develop, and deploy APIs. Having reusable assets and getting the benefits of those assets across the enterprise allows us to develop faster and cheaper, and at scale.”
“The MuleSoft Anypoint Platform enabled us to reduce time to market for IT projects from four months down to four to six weeks,” he continued. “Now we are targeting two weeks.”
As the Digital Accelerator grows, Anypoint Platform will play a critical role in enabling developers to onramp quickly, discover, and reuse assets to deliver projects faster. “What our developers love about Anypoint Platform is the developer experience,” added Bornancin, noting that Airbus developers can deliver a new API in just one week. “MuleSoft removes a lot of the bottlenecks, so developers can focus on the business value and be more productive.”
“With MuleSoft, Airbus is completely rethinking how it builds applications. We are moving to composable building blocks, microservices, and APIs. It's about developing faster and cheaper, and at scale.”
VP, Digital Accelerator, Airbus
The business value ultimately means being able to manufacture aircraft faster, without sacrificing quality. For example, MuleSoft enables Airbus to unlock ERP data and provide data access through self-service options; this directly accelerates the manufacturing and supply chain processes and reduces the time required to deliver new aircrafts.
“At Airbus we are building the future of flight,” Taylor concluded. “That means we need to transform how we manufacture aircraft, and how our customers operate those aircraft. The Airbus Digital Accelerator, APIs, and MuleSoft are at the heart of that transformation.”