NLign Analytics “Structural Lifecycle Digital Environment” Enables Model-Driven Product Quality

Figure 2—NLign Environment for Model-Driven Product Quality Analysis
(Courtesy of NLign Analytics)

  • By Leveraging the patented spatial database capability, design engineers, manufacturing and quality engineers and operations personnel can collaboratively share, update and manage the “Structural Integrity Digital Twin”
    across the virtual extended enterprise and throughout the product operations lifecycle, including supply chain partners. This empowers the engineers to:
    • Equip Lifecycle traceability—Track and report out structural integrity metrics over time-for a single system or across a grouping of assets (fleet characteristics).
    • Enable “Digital Thread for Structural Quality”—Provide an “Authoritative Source of Truth” for structural quality and integrity across the enterprise.
    • Allow Data Openness—Enable connections and integrations with enterprise systems such as PLM, QMS, ERP, MRO, MES, and in-house quality software applications.

NLign Analytics Technology Adoption: Key Customer Success

Current major customers of the NLign Analytics software technology and services include:

  • Northrop Grumman—T-38 trainer aircraft and F-35 fighter aircraft.
  • Boeing—787 Dreamliner, F-15, B-1B, and F/A-18 programs.
  • U.S. Air Force—AFRL, ICBM, AFLC- A-10, T-38, F-15, B-1B, C5, C130, and
    Global Hawk.
  •  U.S. Navy—Naval Air Systems Command MQ4, F/A-18, P-8, and V22.
  • Other U.S. and Foreign Government OEMs and suppliers.

Several major customers and aircraft programs have been using NLign Technology long enough to be able to measure and publicly disclose real-world business impact metrics in moving from manual, document-based processes such as the A&D MRB process into a model-driven process leveraging the NLign Structural Lifecycle Digital Environment:

  •  Air Force A-10/ASIP program key results:
    • Helped double the service life of the workhorse A-10 close air support aircraft between maintenance cycles.
    • Dramatic increase in the quality of data. The quality of inspection records went from 17% good in 2017 to a current 95% in 2019.
    • 800% increase in data communication from time of induction to receipt of inspection
      data by engineering.
  •  Northrop Grumman F-35 fighter program:
    • Real-time data communication with engineering, mitigating errors in data and ultimately receiving 100% quality data for downstream usage.
    • Estimates use of NLign saved 33% of MRB process labor hours.
    • USAF estimated cost savings of $1B over life of F-35 production.
  •  Current NLign Analytics technology and solution partners include:
    • ANSYS
    • Siemens Digital Industries Software
    • PTC


CIMdata believes that the availability of next-generation model-based quality analysis technologies such as the NLign Structural Lifecycle Digital Environment fills a major gap in the intersection of the current suite of commercial software tools and product innovation platforms provided by the major enterprise software solution providers such as Altair, ANSYS, Dassault Systèmes, Hexagon, Infor, PTC, Oracle, SAP, and Siemens Digital Industries Software.

As such, we expect that when NLign is used in combination with PLM, QMS, ERP, MRO, and MES systems, this integration can be a major step forward for industry in achieving one key aspect of the digital thread for structural integrity and system quality across the entire product lifecycle. The use of 3D virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) environments combined with advanced data analytics and AI/ML (machine learning) technologies to create and continuously enhance digital twins will accrue significant business benefits to end-users of weapons systems such as the U.S. Department of Defense deploys and maintains as well as to the companies that design and manufacture such complex weapons systems. More importantly, these digital technologies are now beginning to mature to the level where adoption should not be limited only to high-value assets such as those found in the aerospace and defense industry.

From CIMdata’s perspective, NLign is currently providing a high impact set of 3D model-based product quality and reliability applications that can have significant business impact and ROI across a wide range of industries and product lifecycle applications. We look forward to monitoring their business success, future technology enhancements, and the more widespread adoption of this valuable technology across a range of industries over the next several years. For more information about NLign Analytics and its solutions please see

About CIMdata

CIMdata, an independent worldwide firm, provides strategic management consulting to maximize an enterprise’s ability to design and deliver innovative products and services through the application of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). CIMdata provides world-class knowledge, expertise, and best-practice methods on PLM. CIMdata also offers research, subscription services, publications, and education through international conferences.

To learn more about CIMdata’s services, visit our website at

or contact CIMdata at: 3909 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, USA.

Tel: +1 734.668.9922.
Fax: +1 734.668.1957;

or at Oogststraat 20, 6004 CV Weert, The Netherlands.
Tel: +31 (0) 495.533.666.

1 Research for this commentary was partially supported by NLign Analytics.

2 Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) / Chief Financial Officer. Operation and Maintenance Overview Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Estimates. March 2019.

3 Losey, Stephen. Aircraft mission-capable rates hit new low in Air Force, despite efforts to improve. AirForceTimes. July 2019.

4 Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) / Chief Financial Officer. United States Department of Defense. Fiscal Year2021 Budget Request. February 2020. Revised May 13, 2020.

5 Wyman, Oliver. Global Fleet & MRO Market Forecast 2019–2029 Commentary.


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