The Uptime Blog
Korean Air (KAL) knows how to operate the A330 aircraft, at least according to Airbus. The manufacturer of the A330 gave KAL the award for Best A330 Operator at the Technical Symposium in Bangkok (June 12-14).
Based on a detailed evaluation of KAL’s A330 performance, including on-time operation and aircraft utilization, Airbus recognized KAL for its overall excellence in maintenance. According to the article, “Operating a total of 23 A330s, Korean Air has the highest recorded on-time operation rate of 99.78% amongst 120 airlines from 2010 to 2011.”
Enigma is proud that KAL has demonstrated such great success while using our InService® MRO product – ensuring maximum uptime with minimum turnaround time (TAT) for their A330s. At a recent MRO tradeshow KAL executives described Enigma's value, which was also reported in another recent magazine article.
Clearly KAL's maintenance strategy is paying off, for their passengers and for their operations department. Enigma extends our heart-felt congratulations to Korean Airlines, for winning this prestigious Airbus award!
I’ve just returned from Oracle’s annual Customer Showcase and Maintenance Summit, which offered a laser-like focus on equipment reliability. The Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) —“The Reliable One” — was a phenomenal joint host, bringing summit participants on tours through a power plant, a fleet operations center and a new “green” building in downtown Orlando.
Besides OUC there were many valuable presentations by Oracle customers that addressed a number of issues: increasing operational performance, margin growth, continuous improvement, choosing and using key performance indicators (KPIs), integrating maintenance into enterprise IT, and the importance of keeping data clean. Also presenting was Sean D. Tucker, the world’s leading civilian air show pilot. Sean’s message focused on three things: 1) the importance of reliable equipment; 2) how reliability starts with the individual; 3) how individual reliability is at the heart of team success. As if to highlight this last point, Oracle announced that in 2010 the EAM suite of products had successfully increased the customer base to 4,500, closing the gap with many of their competitors.
The candor of each of Oracle’s customers, as they spoke about their successes and challenges, was refreshing. Last year presentations addressed things like: aging workforces, knowledge transfer and how to improve quality and consistency of maintenance. Although those topics came up again, this year’s focus on reliability raised a different set of issues, with almost every speaker mentioning the importance of having accurate (reliable) data within the EAM system, both in terms of parts inventory and maintenance plans. One company told me they manage over 100,000 assets in EAM but that the parts lists/bill-of-materials (BOM) is only 50% accurate. It’s hard to plan and deliver fast, reliable maintenance when 50% of your data is wrong.
I pursued the issue of poor data quality with several attendees and they all said that it was a major source of frustration. Several noted that they couldn’t start any type of service—preventive maintenance (PM) or reactive/break-fix maintenance—without first calling the manufacturer of the equipment to ask about latest service bulletins, updated parts and revised PM procedures. Yet virtually all of the customers I talked to viewed this data problem as business-as-usual. One customer estimated that for each part or service change, there were 20 man-hours of work (spread across 5-6 people) required to update and synchronize all of the impacted IT systems. Therefore, they typically waited until just before each PM to collect all the latest data from each vendor before starting maintenance, and for unscheduled repairs they either delayed the work or tried to use whatever parts and procedures they had on-hand. The fact that Enigma has a way to continuously update and synchronize all the relevant databases really got people’s attention, however it seemed a little too promising for some to accept. (We’ll be explaining why it’s real in future blogs. In the meantime, give us a call; we’d love to show you how it works.)
As 2011 continues to unfold, we look forward to meeting with the customers and attendees of Oracle’s Maintenance Summit to discuss innovative solutions to the challenge of providing reliable parts and service information. With a rich set of Oracle integrations already in place, Enigma is perfectly positioned to help EAM users significantly improve the reliability, efficiency and consistency of their aftermarket business and maintenance processes.
In customer meetings, Enigma is frequently asked, “do you support 3D models?” The answer is unequivocally, yes.
For manufacturers, many new products are designed using 3D models and assemblies; delivering that detailed data to mechanics and field engineers seems like a cool piece of functionality for any modern parts catalog. However, the goal for manufacturers should be more than just impressing the guys on the front lines (mechanics, dealers and customers); the goal should be to grow the bottom line.
3D models look nice but they don’t provide all the data that service reps need. A technician needs to do more than spin a part on the screen, they also need the most up-to-date service bulletins, manuals, and schematics, and then they need to order the necessary parts. In other words, mechanics need to know how to fix the machine and how to place an order. If a parts catalog doesn’t include service manuals, bulletins, shopping carts and other collateral such as training videos and brochures, then 3D models provide limited value to the customer.
Most OEMs want to make it easy to maintain their machines and order their parts. This drives customer satisfaction and aftermarket sales. Enigma electronic parts catalog (EPC) solutions do four things: 1) make it easy to package all service and parts information (not just the models or parts lists) into a single integrated parts catalog; 2) publish that catalog to the web, to DVD or to the cloud; 3) make it easy for dealers, mechanics and customers to find parts and service information according to equipment serial number, type, configuration/trim package or other criteria; 4) automate the parts ordering and procurement process. Enigma helps OEMs create and update a fully integrated parts catalog that improves customer and dealer support.
That’s why Enigma EPC’s do more than display 3D models; they integrate seamlessly with all aftermarket support solutions (ERP, CRM, SCM, PLM, ECM, etc.). OEMs can leverage their 3D models beyond engineering and manufacturing…all the way to the service bay. Enigma supports 3D viewing solutions, like Oracle AutoVue and Right Hemisphere. (To learn more about the Enigma-Oracle joint solution for parts ordering, click here.)
OEMs can now reuse 3D models in their interactive EPCs, tying them into back-office order management systems to provide a one-stop shop for identifying, locating and ordering OEM branded parts. Integrating Enigma with 3D models results in a complete parts and service solution that improves dealer, technician and customer support, and drives OEM parts revenue.
Enigma was pleased to host our airline customers at Enigma's 2010 Aviation User Conference. This two-day event in Boston gathered clients and partners from around the world for a wide-array of best practice sessions and product roadmap discussions designed to improve their maintenance and engineering operations.
The focus was on helping our customers realize even greater value from their Enigma investment by integrating ERP/MRO and content management (ECM) systems, thereby bridging the gap between maintenance and engineering (M&E), tech pubs and inventory. One of our longtime customers got the point when he said, "This has grown to be way more than a document viewer!"
The advantage Enigma brings to the aviation community is to ensure service and support data is up-to-date and synchronized across all aspects of aircraft maintenance, which results in faster turn-times, better compliance and lower costs.
The conference sessions were interactive, giving customers an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to Enigma executives, developers and technology partners.
Maintenance and engineering executives from some of the world's leading airlines, including Korean Airlines, Japan Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, attended the conference. In addition, guest speakers from Enigma's key aviation partners, Oracle and SAP, delivered presentations on integrating with corporate IT applications. SAP remarked, "We like working with Enigma because they're smart and aggressive," to which one customer added: "They are aggressive but they're really, really smart."
At the request of our customers, Enigma is making the Aviation User Conference an annual event, and has also created a Customer Advisory Board to dive even deeper into short-term and long-term development plans for improving aircraft maintenance and back-office integration.
Around the globe, there are many conferences each year dedicated to aviation MRO but clearly there is a need for more dialogue and exchange on these topics. The complex issues surrounding aircraft maintenance planning, engineering and execution demand ongoing conversations with peers, and Enigma was delighted to provide a useful forum for that.
Attendance at this week's MRO Americas Conference and Exhibition seemed lighter than in past years. Representation from Europe, in particular, was clearly lacking. (Of course, a volcano in Iceland might have had something to do with that.) As a result, using this year's show as a barometer for the MRO market overall might not reveal the actual state of affairs.
Enigma was pleased to join Oracle's booth, where both companies had an opportunity to demonstrate key products for aviation maintenance like Enigma InService MRO, InService JCG and Revision Manager as well as the integration with Oracle cMRO and AutoVue. Oracle also invited Sean Tucker, world champion aerobatic pilot, to join the booth, sign autographs and talk airplanes and flying.
The conference included a number of presentations regarding the impact of globalization on maintenance operations. Coverage of these topics appears to reinforce the ongoing importance of fast access to accurate and relevant data—worldwide. The ATA also ran a couple sessions on airworthiness, regulatory compliance and the challenges for improving visibility of maintenance decisions throughout the MRO process, while also finding ways to control costs.
Despite the effects of Eyjafjallajokull (that's the name of the volcano), this year's MRO Americas Conference was a success. While we missed some of our European colleagues, we learned a lot from those who could attend, and MRO Americas continues to be the must-attend show for all things related to aviation MRO.
The San Francisco Bay Area is nice this time of year, or so I was told. Instead, I got smacked with wind and rain. Nevertheless, Oracle's 4th Annual Maintenance Summit was well worth the inclement weather. Just to put things in perspective, I was at this event because the attendees represent some of the most sophisticated operators of complex equipment on the planet. It's also interesting to note that in 2009, Oracle ALM/EAM products exceeded the 4,000 customer mark. That's pretty impressive.
Presentations were almost exclusively delivered by customers, all of whom were quite open about the pros and cons of their implementation decisions. Customers spoke at length about the technical challenges of converting legacy systems and integrating with financial apps. They also spoke about the organizational challenges of rolling out a modern asset management system to an aging and (somewhat) skeptical workforce.
While I'm sure the speakers were hand-picked, it would be wrong to assume these customers white-washed their experience for Oracle's benefit. They seemed to be truly interested in helping others, even their competitors, avoid the mistakes they had made. Speakers highlighted problems they encountered with the software, the implementation strategy, and their own organizations. Yet in the end, all of the customers I asked were reporting at least 10% improvement in supply chain, maintenance and uptime.
Once the Oracle software went live, companies reported a renewed relationship between the maintenance and finance departments because finance had better visibility into ongoing operations, they could understand the basis for maintenance decisions, and ultimately because the resulting cost savings were clear to all involved.
Many of the companies I met were actively asking, what's next? (i.e. "Now that finance is on our side, how do we keep delivering savings?") These companies were fascinated by the idea of moving beyond asset management and maintenance scheduling, to start optimizing maintenance execution. Our discussions revolved around ways to help mechanics and technicians work more efficiently and deliver more consistent quality. For many of the companies I met, this topic was reaching a critical stage as they face the challenge of a large workforce entering retirement and young replacement workers that lack the required experience.
As Enigma moves deeper into 2010, we look forward to discussing innovative solutions to this problem with the customers and attendees of Oracle's Maintenance Summit. With a rich set of Oracle integrations already in place, Enigma is perfectly positioned to help companies significantly improve their aftermarket business and maintenance processes. And it now seems there are 4,000 of those companies that may be interested.
Service Transformation: that’s what Oracle calls its initiative to help manufacturing companies and maintenance providers improve their aftermarket sales and service business. There were more than 20 different sessions at OpenWorld 2009 that focused on the needs of, and opportunities for, manufacturers and service providers. Topics included: maintenance planning, maintenance execution, asset management, configuration control, knowledge management & retention, customer support, field service, advanced visualization, diagnostics & troubleshooting, spare parts planning, logistics, warranty, service contracts, demand planning, compliance and collaboration.
Clearly, Oracle recognizes the huge opportunity that exists for improving aftermarket processes. In every industry, companies are coming to the realization that they have been taking their aftermarket business for granted, allowing 3rd parties to thrive in this lucrative space. These companies recognize that aftermarket growth, and the high-margins that go with it are critical to restoring profits. More than a short-term fix, a rejuvenated aftermarket will sustain these companies far into the future.
Oracle has articulated a strategy that is designed to capitalize on the unmet needs of the aftermarket, providing solutions that streamline business processes, accelerate parts and service decisions, and maximize equipment uptime and productivity.
For instance, Oracle presented an entire session on the topic of Service Transformation for Manufacturers. Within that session, numerous examples were cited of achieving increased part sales, decreased repair times, lower inventory requirements, and higher customer satisfaction. Even companies that implement only a portion of the Service Transformation footprint, which includes partner solutions like Enigma and Axeda, have realized significant gains.
Why is this relevant? Because so many companies already use Oracle products, it’s not very complicated for them to take the next steps to automate and improve their aftermarket business. The beauty of Oracle’s Service Transformation strategy is that it is flexible enough to be implemented all at once, or in pieces. Enigma is proud to be an Oracle Partner and pleased to be associated with the Service Transformation initiative. Clearly we are no longer the only vendor advocating for aftermarket excellence.
The April 20, 2009 issue of BusinessWeek includes innovation survey data compiled by Boston Consulting Group. The survey data makes it clear that companies across the board are reducing innovation related to new products and services. The BW/BCG poll indicates that companies have become very conservative when it comes to innovation. (Does this surprise anyone?) However, the data also indicates that companies are increasing incremental innovations for existing products and services—this includes minor changes and cost reductions.
In fact the print version of the magazine says, “More companies also are emphasizing minor changes to existing products and cutting production costs than in the previous two years. The upside: Corporations are more satisfied than in the past with the financial return on their innovation investments, suggesting they’ve scaled back to funding prospects with a shorter-term payoff.”
The survey results reinforce a previous blog post on innovation, where we suggested that improvements to existing products and services are very attractive in recessionary markets. This type of incremental innovation doesn’t have to be explained to customers because they already understand the product or service, therefore promoting new features is reduced to simply answering the question of whether the new feature does a job better, faster and/or cheaper. In the aftermarket, OEMs, customers, distributors and field technicians all recognize the value of accelerating equipment repairs and streamlining parts orders.
This leads me to ask a simple question, “Which of your products and services can most benefit from incremental innovations that deliver higher revenues and/or lower costs?” For OEMs, each company may have a different list of possible projects, but improving aftermarket sales and service should show up somewhere for all of them.
Why invest resources now towards improving aftermarket processes? Two reasons:
- In good economic times or bad, the aftermarket is one of the most profitable parts of any OEM business model.
- In a recession, like today, companies aren’t buying new equipment; rather they are trying to get the most out of what they already own.
The common perception of the aftermarket involves high costs and serious competition. While the competition is extreme, the cost doesn’t have to be. (Some of these issues are addressed in a recent webinar by Enigma and Oracle.) For short-term payoff, it makes sense for OEMs to invest in an aftermarket parts and service application that will not only reduce the cost of their aftermarket operations, but also increase their aftermarket sales and improve their customer satisfaction.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of helping mechanics to fix rare problems faster—accelerating the repair of systems that don’t fail very often. Today’s post follows up on that theme as it relates to the aviation MRO industry. Because aircraft systems are generally quite reliable, when something fails unexpectedly it is called a non-routine event (NR). (It should be noted that aircraft systems have multiple redundancies, so an NR is not necessarily a cause for concern. But it still needs to be fixed.)
Non-routine events are a major source of unscheduled aircraft maintenance. (Other industries may refer to this as a break-fix event because something failed outside the normal maintenance schedule.) The question therefore is, “What to do about NRs?” The idea of planning for unscheduled maintenance seems like an oxymoron. After all, how can you plan for something that you can’t predict? And that is really the point; on any complex machine—and an aircraft is really complex—you know something is going to break, you just don’t know what it will be.
To explain the difficulty of the problem let’s look at some real customer data. In a fleet of wide body, long-haul aircraft over a two-year period, an airline found that there were over 3,000 non-routine events that could be traced back to almost 300 different systems. 10 systems caused almost half of the NRs. (In fact, 1 system alone caused 20% of the NRs.) But the majority of the NRs (51%) were caused by failures in one of the other 270+ systems.
When this data is plotted on a graph (above) it is easy to see the trend. The top 10 causes of NRs occured much more frequently than the rest of the systems. (The number 1 cause needs unscheduled maintenance almost once a day and number 10 occurs at least every other week.) The rest of the systems in this study (97%) occurred an average of 4 times per year, forming a long tail on our statistical data. However, since the top 10 problems account for less than half of all non-routine events, if an airline wishes to reduce the overall impact of NRs, then it must address the long tail.
Several conclusions can be drawn from these numbers:
• Most of the systems on an aircraft are quite reliable. (Given the complexity of an airplane and the physical stresses it endures, this is a great testament to the aircraft manufacturers.)
• Mechanics can quickly gain experience fixing the top 10 causes of NRs.
• Mechanics do not gain significant experience fixing the other half of the NRs. (They just don’t see them often enough.)
A typical maintenance approach is to focus attention on the most frequent failures—the top 10. Training to fix the top 10 is pretty straight forward however, the long tail consists of many different problems that happen infrequently. (These are individual systems that rarely break but, when added together, account for the majority of the unscheduled maintenance.) The only way to deal with such a wide-ranging set of problems is to improve the mechanic’s ability to respond to the unknown. Better training is not the solution, automating information systems is.
It should be obvious but when time is tight and a repair is urgent it’s best to bring service information to the mechanic, rather than the other way around. This can be accomplished by integrating maintenance information systems with maintenance planning, inventory and other back-office systems to provide a fully integrated scheduling and execution environment. Then, no matter what type of problem the technician uncovers they can quickly obtain the information they need and begin the process of repair.
Along with our partner Oracle, I’ll be co-presenting an Air Transport World magazine webinar on this topic in a few weeks (December 9, to be specific); if you’d like to attend that webinar, sign up here.
MRO Asia 2008 concluded today in Singapore. Here are some of my impressions from this year’s show:
1. The prevailing mood was definitely on the somber side. Every speaker mentioned the “financial crisis” or “market turmoil” at some point or other in his/her speech, some more than once. The presentation from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) included one slide that had several bullet points all saying, in diffferent words: “expect bad times ahead, we have no idea what to expect”. The continuously falling oil price was small consolation in the general feeling of uncertainty.
2. The exhibition floor was comparable in size to last year’s show in Shanghai, but some of the players in the MRO IT space were conspicuously absent. While most of the best-of-breed MRO providers were there, Swiss Aviation Software was absent. The two “gorillas” in this space – SAP and Oracle – were also absent, although Axon Global was there, with their new iMRO offering, which basically is to replace SAP MRO. From the content delivery players, OpenConnent was not there. Perhaps the European players do not view Asia as a market they need to invest in.
3. As for the attendees, most Asian airlines and many of the non-Asian ones, were represented. However, there seemed to be fewer delegates compared to last year, definitely fewer representatives from Chinese airlines. I know for a fact that one of the airlines planned to send five senior delegates but, with the recent upheavals in the world economy, decided at the last minute to cancel the trip and send two junior delegates instead.
4. Any vendor that attends a major show like MRO Asia carefully monitors the topics that customers and prospects want to discuss. In this regard, Enigma InService Job Card Generator drew a lot of attention from attendees. It is clear that airlines and MROs view the ability to provide intelligent job cards quickly and easily as a key component to accelerating maintenance. Several airlines were seeking even greater automation, and took great interest in Enigma InService MRO. In this regard, it was nice to have important customers, like KLM, at the show that can verify the cost reductions and productivity improvements that are available through advanced technology.
Next year’s show is in Hong Kong. See you all there!
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