What do you get when you cross the best of Formula 1 with the best of the aerospace industry?

The future of flight.

Vertical Aerospace is on a fast pace to develop and manufacture electric aircraft that will change the way the world travels. Based in Bristol, England, the company looks to “Marry the pace and agility of Formula 1 with the rigor and discipline of aerospace,” according to Steven Baxter, Head of Programmes for the company.

Baxter joined Tom Brennan, CMO of Rootstock Cloud ERP for a discussion during Digital Manufacturing Week 2020* on 9 November.

The company is developing cutting-edge electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, with a goal to reduce the carbon emissions associated with travel. VA-1X, Vertical’s flagship aircraft, will carry four passengers for 100 miles at cruise speeds of 150mph. This technology is not only environmentally friendly, it would reduce the journey time from Heathrow Airport to Canary Wharf by 80% versus ground transportation, covering the 30-plus kilometers in under 15 minutes. (A similar journey from LAX to Los Angeles would be reduces from 50 minutes to just 9 minutes.)

Baxter notes that because of the company’s combined engineering expertise in the automotive and aerospace industries, they are already on track for test flights in 2021 and to be certified by 2024; much faster than typical new aircraft certifications.

How do you manage and grow that business?

Vertical Aerospace needs the same combination of speed and agility, with rigor and discipline, in an ERP system. Baxter told Brennan that the company looked at 30 different systems before deciding on Rootstock Cloud ERP.

Baxter said they wanted a system that was cloud-based because they found on-premise ERP systems to be too restrictive. All of their other systems are cloud-based, so it was important to find a cloud-based ERP system.

Being in the aerospace industry, there is an even greater focus on being able to track and monitor parts and processes. They need a system that can track from Bill of Materials, through Supply Chain, Quality Inspection and Build. Like Formula 1, they need maximum performance tracking and predictive maintenance.

They chose Rootstock Cloud ERP because it met their needs for now and in the future. In their current phase of development, the company needs a limited set of functionality to manage things like purchasing, receiving, inventory and financials.

As the operations moves forward and expands, Baxter expects them to expand to the full suite of applications.

Some ERP systems require a full implementation in order to go-live with any part of it. The phased approach with Rootstock allows them to get some quick wins by implementing what they need, as they need it.

Implementing in Lockdown

Being able to implement just what they needed was especially helpful when the initial deployment happened during lockdown from COVID-19 in the UK.

Baxter told Brennan that they were just beginning their implementation phase when the lockdown began. It meant they had to do everything remotely using MS Teams, email and Zoom. He complimented the Rootstock team for helping them get up and running so quickly. He said, “It was phenomenal. It was fast-tracked, it was great, it was agile. We had some great people supporting us at Rootstock, which ultimately enabled us to start our process of capturing all of our ordering.”

A Platform Approach for the Future:

As Vertical Aerospace prepares to sell their eVTOL aircraft in 2024, they plan to take advantage of the broader Salesforce Platform. Sales, Customer Service, Field Service and more will allow them to capture the information they need like non-conformance, hours flown, operations in the field, and where parts are needed globally. They can build dashboards as needed and create communities for their customer and suppliers.

Baxter feels confident that Rootstock Cloud ERP, with the seamless integration on the Salesforce Platform, will be able to grow with them. “We’ve identified with Rootstock what we need to do, and I think we’ve got a great future, building a robust system that captures everything we need.”

*Digital Manufacturing Week 2020 is a week-long festival that brings together manufacturers, solution providers and industry experts. Produced by UK-based The Manufacturer, a premier industry publication that publishes manufacturing news, articles, events and insights and promotes best practice in the manufacturing industry. The full recording featuring Steven Baxter with Tom Brennan is available here.