Carlo Nizam to Lead ICT Digital Transformation at Airbus Group

By Mark Roberti

The former head of the aircraft manufacturer's Value Chain Visibility and RFID Program will now lead Airbus Group's ICT digitalization, and be succeeded by Trevor Stone.

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For the past seven years, Carlo K. Nizam has been the head of Airbus Group‘s Value Chain Visibility and RFID program. He has led the effort to use radio frequency identification, as well as what the company refers to as “Intranet of Things” (IoT) technologies, to track aircraft parts, logistics containers, tools, jigs, subassemblies and other critical assets (see The Intranet of Things). That effort has helped the aircraft manufacturer to build one of the world’s first RFID- and IoT-enabled digital value chains. Now, Nizam has been tapped to lead the company’s mission to digitalize analog business processes across Airbus Group, which includes Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Airbus Helicopter and Airbus Defense & Space. He will be part of the company’s information communication and technology (ICT) organization, reporting to the group chief information officer.

“My role will be to support the design and implementation of an integrated group strategy for digital transformation,” Nizam told RFID Journal, “and ensure that we put in place an integrated ICT strategy and technology backbone to enable the digital transformation across the group.”

Carlo K. Nizam

Replacing Nizam as the head of the Value Chain Visibility and RFID program will be Trevor Stone, who has been serving under Nizam as Airbus’ head of Non-Flyable Projects within its VCV and RFID program. Nizam stresses, however, that RFID and the IoT are an important part of the digitalization process, so he will still be working closely with Stone and his unit.

“Digital transformation involves the penetration of all aspects of the product value-creation process with new capabilities that go beyond the state of the art, and the result of which can potentially help us redefine our value proposition,” Nizam says. “So anything that helps us to make faster and better decisions, shorten cycle times, speed up our ramp-ups and improve production efficiency is something we will be interested in. RFID plays into all of that because it is an important enabler for the digitalization of our physical processes. It helps us connect the unconnected and create what we call the Intranet of Things. This opens up huge new reams of data insights into our physical industrial processes that we didn’t have before—when things were tracked with paper—and sets the scene for some very interesting big-data applications.”

RFID will be just one of the technologies that Nizam will explore to determine how they can benefit Airbus Group and fit into its digitalization strategy. He will be looking at sensors that can provide information regarding the state of assets at its industrial facilities, as well as big-data tools, 3D printing, augmented-reality systems and even technologies that are just emerging in places like California’s Silicon Valley. “There are no closed doors on this subject,” he says. “Everything is open for consideration.”

Separately, Airbus has hired Paul Eremenko—who had been the head of Google‘s Project Ara, developing a modular, open-source smartphone—to oversee a new innovation business center in Silicon Valley. Eremenko will be exploring new technologies, new business models and new ideas emanating from Silicon Valley, to determine how they could benefit Airbus in a variety of ways. Some of his ideas could be relevant for the digitalization effort.

Trevor Stone

Nizam plans to spend the next few months developing relationships with the business leaders who run units within the group, learning about the current digital activities and IT architectures across Airbus Group, and assessing new technologies, capabilities and trends globally.

“I see this topic as a natural evolution,” Nizam states. “What we have achieved within the VCV and RFID program can be seen as a first solid step to digitalizing value-chain processes. Now, through the digital-transformation program, we intend to effectively build on this and take it to a new level.”