Maintenance in the palm of your hand
Comprehensive IT platforms for maintenance planning are becoming increasingly popular among airlines as they look to streamline MRO processes and reduce costs. Hannah Davies explores what’s on offer while discussing the challenges and advances in the IT MRO business.
Timing is everything in aviation; each day airlines commit to transporting millions of passengers to hundreds of destinations, on time. And in order to deliver such a service, an airline has to implement the tightest of procedures across its whole business, from having cabin crew on standby to ensuring that a part can be easily located if an aircraft is grounded.
By adopting an advanced IT MRO solution airlines can manage and improve their maintenance processes in real-time, consequently reducing lead times and costs. Imagine having an all-encompassing system in place that caters to your business’s individual needs while providing a clear overview of operations. This is exactly what the innovative IT solutions offered by the likes of Commsoft, Ramco and Rusada promise.
While these systems most certainly help airlines to log and streamline key operational data, they have also been developed to give customers choice and flexibility. Through multiple comprehensive modules, users are able to integrate the platforms into their existing set-ups and legacy systems to automatically generate content, including reports and graphs that play a huge role in planning future maintenance processes more cost-effectively.
Planning, predicting and evaluating
For example, UK-based Commsoft’s Open Aviation Strategic Engineering System (OASES) features a ‘Planning Module’ that can predict when maintenance tasks, modifications and defect limitations are due, giving customers the chance to plan maintenance to coincide with other, already planned checks. The module can also automatically generate work package documentation and material pre-loads, which can be stored on the system and used to forecast future maintenance events.
Ramco, based in the south Indian city of Chennai, is another company that offers the market an IT system for maintenance planning and has 17,000 end users globally, according to Ranganathan Jagannathan, head of Global Aviation Solutions. Through its solution, the company allows customers — including Emirates, Malaysia Airlines and Republic Airways — to manage diverse areas such as engineering, planning, maintenance operations, materials, third-party MRO, tech records, reliability and financials. It also features reporting capabilities, email alerts and workflows.
The solution meets time-sensitive demands of customers with its ‘In-Memory Planning and Optimisation Algorithm’, which allows it to consider all the necessary criteria, evaluate all possible outcomes and speedily deliver the “most optimal capacity, manpower and equipment utilisation options for managing swift turnarounds”, explains Jagannathan.
Likewise, Commsoft — through its OASES system — aims to reduce turn around times (TATs) for customers during maintenance events. And with over 90 operators using the system worldwide in 43 countries, this eightmodule solution is clearly doing well. According to Nick Godwin, MD at the company,its success is thanks to OASES’s functionality covering key areas of aviation maintenance, including technical records, planning, airworthiness, engineering, purchasing and inventory, commercial and quotes management, shop floor production, configuration control, warranty management, line and base maintenance.
While Rusada, which is head-quartered in Switzerland, offers the market a comprehensive MRO solution called ‘Envision’. This platform features seven innovative modules that target everything from fleet management and maintenance planning to flight operations and quality assurance. With Envision, customers are able to plan work and see the impact of the plannedwork, also benefiting from a graphical representation that can display both confirmed and planned maintenance visits, allowing businesses to plan checks accordingly.
Maintenance visit management also includes status monitoring and the ability to import work either from a maintenance forecast or on an ad hoc basis, according to Rusada. The company counts operators and MRO providers among its customers and with close to 30 years’ of experience in developing and implementing MRO IT solutions, it’s no stranger to meeting the growing needs of customers.
Forecasting and planning ahead for future maintenance events has become a key priority for airlines. Adopting lean maintenance is also becomingmore common, as airlines and MRO shops work tirelessly to avoid the huge costs associated with the failure of large parts, such as an engine.
Trying to predict when a part might fail or be due for servicing is quickly becoming best practice, as it allows an airline to carry out any unplanned repair work within scheduled maintenance time. In order to be proactive and predict system failures, real-time data and diagnostic tools are crucial. Next-generation aircraft feature thousands of sensors that can report on the health of certain parts, delivering messages to the ground to help MROs prepare for repairs.