Airbus Using AI to Save Millions

To put the article into context, I will start with a summary of the firm Airbus; it is a European multinational aerospace corporation that stood as the world's second-biggest aerospace and defence company in 2018. It specialises in designing, manufacturing and delivering industry-leading commercial aircraft, helicopters, military transports, satellites and launch vehicles.

The manufacturing giant in the aerospace sector has recently released its financial reports which includes after they introduced their new AI to process employee invoices as part of its finance function. This involved partnering up with the Silicon Valley firm AppZen which aims to cross-reference financial reports against a repository of accepted vendors, expense types and amounts to locate anomalies. The current AI can examine:

  • The identity of the vendor

  • The existence of a venue, for example, a warehouse

  • and even the type of expense and amount.

 
Part of Appzen’s presentation on AI affecting Airbus, Source: Appzen twitter

Part of Appzen’s presentation on AI affecting Airbus, Source: Appzen twitter

 

The AI has a global reach as it can scan receipts in over 100 languages according to the Wall Street Journal which is especially key as Airbus is such a global company. Additionally, market research has also suggested that by 2025 over 85% of the firm’s accounts of payable activity will be automated.

Diving deeper into the details of the AppZen initiative: the Airbus finance teams only need to check approximately two lines out of a 35- line report. This frees up time for the finance staff to concentrate on other more analytical tasks. Furthermore, Airbus has stated that there are no current plans to layoff staff meaning no technological unemployment.

The AI is not here to lay off, but basically to reshuffle activities
— Richard Masci, head of financial system services and compliance at Airbus Americas

Focusing more on the profit margins, further market research has suggested that Airbus’ initial sunk cost of $50,000 in investing in its AI reporting system has already paid itself off with a further $50,000 in cost savings. Furthermore, the firm expects to save at least $210,000 next year in North and South America alone. These savings mainly arise from a reduction of hours in processing time.

To conclude Airbus’ implementation of AI has been a great financial success and they hope to gain exponential increases in savings in the future. The real question is whether Airbus will continue to expand their use of AI in their operations and whether the financial returns will be as rewarding.

FinanceArun Singh Dhillon