EXCLUSIVE – Dave Morton of SME Highlights AeroDef Manufacturing


AeroDef Manufacturing is a leading exposition and technical conference for the aerospace and defense manufacturing industry. This year’s AeroDef, produced by SME and in partnership with industry OEMs, will offer a broad range of activities from panel discussions about artificial intelligence and mixed reality technologies (AR/VR) to presentations and workshops about advances in processes and materials.

AeroDef Manufacturing
26-29th March 2018
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, California USA

We caught up with Dave Morton, Senior Show Manager, to learn about this year’s AeroDef Manufacturing event in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.


AMazing®: Dave, thank you for your participation. What challenges do aerospace and defense manufacturers face in today’s global market?

Dave Morton: A powerful combination of market trends, technology developments and geopolitical upheaval continues to change and disrupt the aerospace and defense industry. Digital strategies offer new and improved ways to optimize the supply chain, reduce time to market and increase revenue.

As a result, many aerospace and defense companies are considering how they use digital to generate and sustain business results. Simply being able to perform endless analytics or simulations is not the answer. Investments in digital capabilities must count and should be carefully considered to ensure that they can simultaneously deliver both operational savings and revenue gains.

Mixed Reality Solution Center (Photo courtesy of SME)

Mixed Reality Solution Center (Photo courtesy of SME)

AMazing®: What are some of the innovative ways augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality tools are being used by manufacturers to improve productivity, efficiency and worker safety?

Dave Morton: As augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies come of age, manufacturers are finding easier ways to adopt these technologies on many fronts—from product development, to training, to maintenance and repair, to worker safety. And, in the wake of major investments in the technologies over the last couple of years, a new generation of VR and AR devices and software is becoming available. Combined VR/AR sales are forecast to hit $150 billion by 2020, with AR alone comprising about $120 billion.

Manufacturers can create avatars—digital representations of factory-floor workers—to test what changes to a facility are needed to reduce strain on employees’ backs during assembly. Manufacturers can create virtual prototypes of an engine or car interior that allows designers and engineers to walk around and experience—cutting the considerable time and expense required by physical models. Taken a step further, virtualizing products before even a physical prototype exists enables manufacturers to share the product in the testing phase with customers, creating a potentially better opportunity for feedback and collaboration.

In addition to helping to visualize and contextualize information, AR/VR also help smooth a critical issue facing manufacturing: the aging workforce and shortage of skilled manufacturing labor. It enables manufacturers to collect and preserve the information that “lives in the heads” of these highly skilled workers and digitally capture it in many ways.

AMazing®: Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be finding its niche in manufacturing as the technology matures and costs drop. What can AeroDef attendees expect to learn about this emerging technology?

Dave Morton: AI is making every interface both simple and smart – and setting a high bar for how future interactions will work. It will act as the face of a company’s digital brand and a key differentiator – and become a core competency demanding of C-level investment and strategy. Two-thirds of aerospace and defense executives believe Artificial intelligence (AI) will have a major impact on both the aerospace and defense industry and their firm. Productivity was the most cited benefit (74 percent) to their organization for embedding artificial intelligence into user interfaces.

AeroDef 2017 – Video courtesy of SME

AMazing®: A number of technical sessions at this year’s AeroDef are dedicated to additive manufacturing (AM) from fundamentals to metal part fabrication using additive manufacturing.While the business potential for the production of complex, high-quality niche products in smaller series appears attractive, the undertaking is not without risks. What advice would you offer businesses attending AeroDef, that are interested in the commercialization of metal additive technologies?

Dave Morton: Check out the metal additive technologies track at AeroDef. Among the technology on display this year, metal additive manufacturing stands out among the latest growth and advancements in the industry. Although additive manufacturing in plastics has been around for three decades, the big push in the last 10 years has been in producing metal-based parts. Materials development in that segment has progressed at a furious pace to accommodate the requirements of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) looking for a fast way to print low-volume components.

AMazing®: Finally, what conference strategies and tips would you suggest to AeroDef attendees to explore the rich, diverse network of industries to maximize their conference experience? 

Dave Morton: Attend more than just the keynote and panel sessions. The National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing is in the process of developing a National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing to improve government coordination and provide long-term guidance for federal programs and activities in support of U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. To be held on Monday, March 26, the roundtable will gather broad public input, especially from industry, academia and nonprofit organizations that may be used as input into developing the new strategic plan.

On Tuesday, March 27, Adele Ratcliff, director of manufacturing resiliency and assurance and international manufacturing and innovation, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, will explain how attendees can benefit from the latest strategies and programs to strengthen the defense-wide industrial base.

If you are attending with students or young professionals, the AeroDef Career Development Forum is geared toward college and university students, faculty members and young professionals. The interactive event takes place March 27 and 28, and is designed to enhance career development and grow future generations of leaders in the aerospace and defense manufacturing community.

This concludes our interview. Dave, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about this year’s AeroDef Manufacturing.


About Dave Morton
Dave Morton is SME’s aerospace and defense industry expert as well as the AeroDef event manager. He offers 26 years of professional experience in a multitude of areas including Sales, Marketing, Management and Leadership.

About AeroDef Manufacturing
AeroDef Manufacturing is a leading technical conference and exposition for the aerospace and defense manufacturing industry. Produced by SME, in partnership with industry OEMs, its mission is to foster innovation across the extended enterprise to reduce costs, expedite production times and maintain U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Learn more at aerodefevent.com.

About SME
SME connects manufacturing professionals, academia and communities, sharing knowledge and resources to build inspired, educated and prosperous manufacturers and enterprises. With more than 85 years of experience and expertise in events, media, membership, training and development, and also through an education foundation, SME is committed to promoting manufacturing technology, developing a skilled workforce and attracting future generations to advance manufacturing. Learn more at sme.org, follow @SME_MFG on Twitter or facebook.com/SMEmfg.

Ashley Areeda
Senior PR Rep, SME

Source: SME/AMazing



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