The Uptime Blog
Tags: Air Transport World, Revision Management, Customer Originated Changes, aircraft maintenance, Job Cards, technical documentation, SAP, Illustrated Parts Catalogs (IPC), Master Parts Lists (MPL), Configuration, British Airways
A few days ago we had the pleasure of co-sponsoring a webinar with SAP and Air Transport World, with featured guest speakers Alun Pryer, the Design Authority Head of Engineering at British Airways, and Phil Te Hau, SAP’s Director of Solution Management for Airlines. Together, we discussed “The Challenges of Aircraft Provisioning, Configuration and Maintenance Execution,” a topic that has been of great interest lately to airlines and MRO shops.
Pryer described how British Airways is working to increase efficiency within maintenance and engineering. One challenge, according to Pryer, is that traditional IT systems require too much manual intervention for processing technical documentation and revisions. While BA’s current approach provides acceptable quality, it is very labor intensive with aspects of the process being monitored and managed using spreadsheets. There are no automated checks and balances to validate and approve data changes, which creates delays and increases costs. As Pryer stated during the webinar, “The system works well, and we produce quality, so the case for [process] change is not around quality. Rather, it’s driven by new documentation formats, and the need to modernize, reduce costs, increase efficiency and conserve resources.”
Technical documentation goes through frequent, sometimes complex revisions. Yet it’s critical to keep that content updated and synchronized with other IT systems, because technical documentation is the key to communicating important changes throughout an MRO ecosystem, and is the foundation for compliance. Outdated tech pubs information creates a ripple effect that impacts inventory, maintenance and compliance decisions. For airlines and MROs looking to make meaningful business improvements it’s essential to automate tech pubs processes. (Enigma offers solutions such as Enigma InService MRO, InService Revision Manager and InService Job Card Generator.)
But automating tech pubs is only one part of the solution. Integrating tech pubs with the master parts list (MPL), inventory and “as-maintained” configuration for each aircraft is the other key to improve efficiencies throughout the MRO environment. That’s why Te Hau from SAP stressed the importance of integration and configuration control to “increase efficiencies in the supply chain, improve compliance and reporting, and to manage down maintenance costs and inventory to best match fleet requirements.” To minimize delays and costs, it’s important to keep inventory synchronized with the airline’s fleet (provisioning). This requires configuration management to know the parts that are already on an aircraft and the parts that are allowed, which in turn affects maintenance planning, execution and compliance.
The problem for many MRO organizations today is that traditional configuration management and inventory systems don’t integrate technical documentation, and so it is difficult to compare the as-allowed part numbers (from the IPC), the as-planned parts (from the MPD/MPL), and the as-maintained structure of the aircraft (from the MRO/ERP). An integrated MRO IT system brings together technical documentation, the MPL, the maintenance planning documents (MPD) and the as-maintained structure, to provide one consistent view of configuration control, inventory and maintenance requirements.
“We want everything centered around a single, central content repository, with automated revisions, reduced paper format, and a standardized, streamlined approach,” said Pryer. “That is our vision. We are aiming to achieve an integrated workflow, automated tracking and revisions, and application directly to the source documentation.” Pryer also noted that British Airways needs a scalable solution to accommodate their growing third party MRO business, and the need to be “ready for future technologies, especially mobile.”
To view the entire webinar presentation, we encourage you to playback the recording.
Organizations that maintain complex machinery try to keep accurate maintenance records because the assets are highly valuable and because there are often warranty implications and compliance regulations for such equipment (e.g. aviation and public transit). In addition, complex, machines typically have long life cycles, with numerous service checks and repairs over time. The ability to keep accurate maintenance records for corporate assets is critical to configuration management, service planning and inventory.
When an asset/vehicle is acquired, its initial service and parts data is entered into an EAM or ERP system of record. This can be a time-consuming process, as the critical components for each machine are loaded into the ERP system and the maintenance procedures and service schedules are converted into maintenance plans in the EAM system. Usually assets are represented as a unique configuration of parts (Bill of Materials, or BOM), but in the case of similar equipment the BOM for one asset may start-off looking the same as another. That however, changes over time.
One of the challenges of asset maintenance is that the BOM for each asset evolves; it doesn’t match the original factory-built BOM. As soon as equipment comes in for service, and parts are replaced, the asset no longer reflects the as-built configuration, and its BOM continues to change, as additional repairs and modifications are performed. The history of maintenance and parts for each asset is usually recorded in the EAM system, but not always to the level of detail necessary for compliance and warranty requirements.
In such cases, the equipment owner/operator must often be able to identify the specific method of repair and the specific parts that were removed/installed (sometimes down to the component serial number). This raises some critical questions; how does this detailed information get back into the EAM and ERP systems for configuration management? How is unscheduled (break-fix) maintenance identified and recorded in the systems of record? What happens when an OEM sends out new service bulletins, catalogs or manuals that call for different parts and procedures? How does revised information get updated into the EAM and ERP system so that inventory and maintenance planning/execution can be improved? Without a fast and easy way to address these questions, equipment owner/operators will always be at risk for compliance and warranty violations. Such violations cost companies millions of dollars per year, on top of the cost of manually loading and updating EAM and ERP systems and the cost of using incorrect parts and maintenance processes.
Enigma understands the challenges of using service and parts documentation for configuration management, service planning and inventory optimization, and currently supports various types of solutions across multiple industries. In future blog posts we will outline some of the ways our customers are reducing the costs and risks of warranty, compliance and aftermarket service and support.
For more information, download our white paper on Deriving Greater Value from Enterprise Asset Management Investments.