Aerospace4.0 SIG: Introducing the new Chair for the ADS digital technology community

Hi, I’m Nigel Thomas and I’ve just taken over as Chair of the Aerospace4.0 – ADS Special Interest Group. The group aims to develop understanding of the emerging fast-changing Digital Technology landscape and to exploit this for competitive advantage.

Image of Nigel Thomas - Chair of Aerospace 4.0 Personal Introduction

My day job is as a Senior Strategic Account Director for Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM, integration software and data analytics company. I’ve been involved with ADS since before it became ADS (SBAC) and have a passion for encouraging and enabling collaboration up and down the supply chain, in the Civil and Military aerospace sectors.

My academic degree is in Applied Psychology & Computing, with a special interest in the roles human beings play in operating complex processes in complex systems across complex organisations. I have held various senior managerial and business development roles in aerospace and defence for more than 20 years, with SMEs and large global corporations. Whilst scale brings its own challenges, whether you are a small business or the largest corporate, the key to surviving (and hopefully thriving) in a dynamic industry still revolves around people, capability, collaboration and the ability to adapt and grow in a rapidly changing world.

Technology as a Creator of Value

I sort of fell into the world of business technology by accident, it’s an odd thing to say, but it’s true. Something clicked with me in the early 2000’s when I realised that technology was changing at an increasingly rapid pace and was moving from being a barrier to inter-company collaboration to an enabler.

It’s now changed again with Industry4.0 (or Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), or any of the other commonly used phrases to describe the interaction of ‘cyber-physical systems’ – Digital Manufacturing for instance, or our version…Aerospace4.0) where we all expect technology to create value.

I am really excited to become Chair of the Aerospace4.0 Special Interest Group (SIG) at a time when businesses across the globe have a huge impetus to make the Digital Transformation that we’ve all been talking about for the last 5 or 6 years. For many organisations, the ability to take advantage of Cloud based technologies or use the vast amounts of data created by them for operational and financial benefit is a matter of survival. Those that do it well, stand a chance of being competitive and thriving in the future.

So what do we want the Aerospace4.0 SIG to do?

We see our mission as educating, facilitating and fostering the adoption of these digital technologies in the UK Aerospace Sector. It isn’t only about the technology, it’s about the successful adoption and deployment of digital technologies to create value for all the stakeholders in our particular industry…from the end consumer of the service/product all the way through the value chain to raw material producers. To be effective in tackling this issue, we will need to collaborate, share knowledge across the industry and encourage development of business cases to support the industrial strength deployment of Industry4.0 technologies that will create competitive advantage for UK aerospace.

We’ll do this through regular events at a local, regional and national level which will be proactive and encourage adoption and deployment, whilst also influencing UK Government policy and strategy. We have big ambitions…but it’s an important time for all of us in UK manufacturing, particularly in the aerospace sector.

Aerospace4.0 SIG – how to get involved

We’ve selected a Steering Group with representatives from member companies representing all sizes of organisation including academia and members from the Catapult organisations.

If you’ve got ideas or want to get involved, please get in touch with Karun Harrar, the SIG’s facilitator, we’d love to hear from you.

I look forward to seeing you on a Zoom call (or in a meeting?) in the near future.