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Asset Management at Airbus: Driving Change with Digital Twin Simulation

Asset Management at Airbus: Driving Change with Digital Twin Simulation

In a recent webinar hosted by the Digital Twin Consortium, Joël Serres, Asset Management & Industrial Maintenance Expert of Airbus, and Michel Morvan, Co-founder & Executive Chairman from Cosmo Tech, explored how one of the world’s leading aerospace players used Simulation Digital Twin technology to optimize their asset management performance. Over the course of a 45-minute presentation the pair offered an introduction to the power of AI simulation for decision making. Here’s a recap of Airbus key learnings and results from a use case.


Since 2020, Joël Serres and his team at Airbus have transformed their asset management practice. The traditional approach of managing assets is focused on maintenance activities and often involves working on assets individually. The new approach is asset management, taking into account the entire lifecycle of the asset and adopting a long-term perspective on the health and value of the asset. 

This new approach also recognized that asset management could be a key to realizing broader corporate targets such as financial performance and sustainability.

This transformation is not without challenges, and two stand out for Serres: the need to align teams on a single decision making process and asset management strategy, and the increasing complexity of the asset management tools, operations, and data.


Alignment is incredibly important to Airbus. Any strategic decision with the aim of maximizing the value extracted from its specialized tools, machines, and assets, and optimizing a machine’s ROI, will impact seven or eight different roles within the organization. Manufacturing engineers, CAPEX managers, operational planners, maintenance managers, and financial controllers all have a role to play in managing and optimizing assets but they can also have contrasting visions, competing constraints, and different corporate targets to meet. Aligning these different teams is essential because, when alignment is absent, inefficiencies, increase of lead time, production issues and operational conflicts can emerge. 

“The first challenge is clearly to align all stakeholders involved on a decision on cost and the CAPEX and OPEX that you have to deploy on one or several assets in your plant,” he says. “For example, the manufacturing engineer wants to deploy new technology while at the same time the maintenance manager wants to optimize costs and to maintain the processes that they already know.”


Complexity emerges when there are a variety of tools, methods, and processes that often prevent efficient decision-making and work against cross-company alignment. What’s more, asset managers rely heavily on their many years of experience to make the best asset management decisions for the company. Airbus estimates that 80% of asset management decisions are based on experience, with just 20% being data driven decisions. With a more efficient asset management practice, however, Serres was sure they could reverse this ratio and have their expert asset management stakeholders leverage data for 80% of their asset management decisions.

Addressing these challenges meant setting up an asset manager role to lead the transformation journey and the adoption of digital tools. In another hand, to put in place a new methodology supported by a technology with simulation capabilities that go beyond managing or forecasting the future by mirroring the past. 

Airbus used Cosmo Tech Digital Twin Simulation solution to help them define the right lifecycle strategy for six riveting machines, key assets in European aircraft production, in one of their final assembly plants in France.


120,000 Operations Simulated: Airbus leveraged their Simulation Digital Twin to test lifecycle scenarios and determine which would deliver the optimal outcome. Serres oversaw the simulation of 120,000 individual operations and the team was able to identify the ways in which their existing approach would fall short of their targets while also having visibility on the impact of their decisions. 

“With digital twin simulation, you can see the impact of failures at different ages of your assets,” Serres explained. “You can simulate 120,000 failures, and their consequences, to find the optimal age for replacement. For example, we identified that one of our machines could last in production a lot longer than what we initially imagined.”

From these simulations, Airbus could understand the behavior of their assets in the future. They had clear visibility of the optimal replacement strategy to maximize their return of investment, with detailed results on each of their KPIs: OPEX, CAPEX, down-time costs, and foresee they could also integrate environmental and safety performance indicators.

The Role of Data

The Role of Data: Airbus knew that they would need data and there were some initial concerns that it would take too long to marshall the relevant data. “I was afraid at the beginning,” Serres said, “But it only took us four to six weeks to gather and clarify all of the data that we needed.”

Another surprise was which data would be the most critical for making the best decisions. Serres continued, “I was thinking at the beginning that we would have a problem around technical data but it was not the case. We were surprised because the critical data was not what was expected, with sensitivity on the cost rather than on some technical aspects”.

Michel Morvan adds, “As Cosmo Tech technology involves modeling processes, it does not require a lot of data from the past as is the case with other tools based on machine learning. Simulating the sensitivity of some data, can also help to find the critical data needed to solve the problem, as it did in this case at Airbus.” 

Clear Stakeholder Alignment

Clear Stakeholder Alignment: There are clear benefits to Airbus teams being aligned on their asset replacement strategy, with the impact immediately evident.

“We’ve got people around the table who are saying ‘Wow! That’s incredible because we are aligning people on that’,” said Serres. “Clearly you’ve got the CAPEX guy who is smiling, the maintenance engineering team saying ‘now I clearly understand the big picture and what I should do’, and you’ve got the production guy who is gaining confidence in what we are doing.”

This, continues Serres, is the power of a simulation digital twin applied to a new asset replacement strategy approach. 

A Path to a 15% TOTEX Reduction

A Path to a 15% TOTEX Reduction: The transformation in Airbus’ asset management strategy is aimed at delivering both corporate alignment and, in time, cost optimizations for the organization, too. Thanks to Simulation Digital Twin, Airbus on this first use case were able to identify an asset management replacement strategy that had the potential to optimize a significant portion of the operational and capital expenditures over the long term.

“The conclusion was clear for me that, with this approach, we see a potential 15% reduction of our total costs,” Serres said. 

The simulation technology generated the plans that Airbus could implement to set themselves on a path to such reductions. While not yet realized, the alignment is real and the organization has the potential to hit targets that were unthinkable with existing and traditional approaches to manage assets.


A Cosmo Tech Simulation Digital Twin allowed Airbus to define their machine replacement strategy that would optimize investments and reduce capital and operational expenditures on these multi-million-euro assets. The different teams engaged in asset management at Airbus were able to align around a data-informed and simulation-driven action plan. Stakeholders could understand how and why the replacement strategy was derived. With this use case, Airbus has laid the foundation for their new methodology where 80% of decisions are based on data. Finally, Joël Serres revealed that based on these results, Airbus teams are already “doing another study in another plant in Spain”.

Want to know more? Watch here the full video replay or read the case study description.