There's a certain attraction that draws companies to the aerospace industry.
It's a field that is difficult to break into and requires a good deal of engineering expertise to remain ahead of the pack. But once a firm gets through the front door, the perception is the sky's the limit. Of course, that's not necessarily the case.
Companies that produce elastomeric products learn quickly there's a lot of tough, highly qualified competition to contend with in the field and, like in many sectors, the ground rules can change—sometimes slowly, more often quickly.
For instance, Lord Corp.'s Scott Miller, global marketing manager for the Cary, N.C.-based company, said “the industry has gone through some fairly big changes in the last 10 years.” Although the commercial aircraft business has continued to experience strong growth, he noted, other segments have been up and down.
He said the defense market dropped sharply and then became relatively flat after reaching high levels three years ago. “And the commercial helicopter market is suffering a major slowdown currently, due to the reduction in offshore oil and gas operations.”
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions' Michel Prouff, head of the company's worldwide aerospace operation, noted that some of the biggest changes in the industry for seals include the introduction of new concepts to reduce emissions and noise for engines with higher temperatures. That requires greater performance from seals, he said.
He said the aerospace industry is copying the automotive industry in terms of seeking more parts from their suppliers that are built to specifications.