The Uptime Blog
Tags: MRO, Airbus, aviation, Boeing, technical documentation, ATA, S1000D, SAP, PDF, Tablet, Enigma, John Snow
Last week, the Danish Defense Forces sponsored SUGAIR 60 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The SAP Users Group for Airlines (SUGAIR) is a bi-annual conference for experts, executives and managers of MRO operations in the airline, aerospace and defense industries. Enigma was invited to describe the challenges associated with moving to the S1000D data standard and to discuss the opportunities for tablets in the hands of technicians. It was also an opportunity to update SUGAIR members on the SAP-Enigma integration strategy. (The deep integration with SAP has made Enigma the de-facto standard for delivery of technical information in SAP projects for A&D.) SUGAIR 60 had an impressive list of airlines and defense organizations in attendance and the feedback Enigma received was very positive.
SUGAIR attendees found the S1000D discussion very enlightening. The audience came to realize there is a lot of cost and effort required when implementing a functional S1000D environment; more than previously understood. Many of the “features” touted by S1000D vendors and consultants require custom implementation because OEMs (Boeing, Airbus, et al) have implemented the standard in different ways. (New standards often seem to make matters more complicated, as vendors try to establish or retain a perceived competitive advantage.) The attendee’s reaction reflects the concern expressed by airlines at last year’s Aviation Week MRO IT in Chicago. It turns out that because certain S1000D attributes are considered optional, or vary by OEM, most airlines and MROs won’t be able to reap the benefits of S1000D without a customized solution. However, Enigma did demonstrate some of the potential benefits of S1000D including:
- Fault isolation decision trees – dynamically generating the next information set based off the technician’s inputs, and recording the user’s path to feed a symptom/resolution knowledge base
- Truly interactive maintenance operations – where each maintenance step performed is passed back to the system of record
The next topic generated a huge amount of interest, which is the ability to make PDF data behave like XML...no conversion required. Enigma demonstrated the extraction of text fragments from PDF documents and the dynamic (on-the-fly) creation of job cards based on that PDF content. Furthermore, Enigma demonstrated the ability to link back and forth between XML and PDF documentation so that PDF functions essentially the same as XML. Given the amount of PDF that resides in aviation technical libraries (and the amount of PDF continues to grow) this capability helped many in the audience wake up to the opportunities to leverage existing data (without a complete data conversion initiative).
As in the past, the topic with the greatest “cool” factor was Enigma’s discussion and demonstration of a tablet-based solution. This is not a special tablet-only implementation of Enigma; it is standard InService® MRO using style sheets that have been tailored to the unique requirements and capabilities of a tablet device. The demo showed how single source access to the complete technical library can support routine maintenance as well as non-routine maintenance disposition and correction, and seamless, enhanced maintenance turnover events. By this point in the presentation, Enigma had run over the allotted time but the attendees readily offered more time to complete the demonstration/discussion.
For many attendees, the social highlight was a boat tour of the canals around Copenhagen, which was sponsored by Enigma. It was a great opportunity for members of SUGAIR to connect in an informal way, and for the many defense and airline organizations to get acquainted and compare notes.
Throughout the three-day event Enigma reinforced the strong bonds we've developed with many SUGAIR attendees, and we extend a heartfelt thank you to the members of SUGAIR and to the Danish Defense Forces for their gracious hospitality. Enigma believes that participating in SUGAIR 60 allowed us to help solve today’s (and tomorrow’s) aviation maintenance challenges, and from the feedback we received the airline, aerospace and defense attendees gained valuable insight for how to leverage SAP and partner technology to create success.
With the holidays upon us (and four years of blog posts behind us), we thought this week would be a good time to reflect on a few of our most popular blog posts.
To all our readers: Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa!
Automation and Integration: A Conversation with British Airways and SAP about Aircraft MRO
Here’s a blog that summarizes a great webinar that Enigma co-sponsored with SAP and Air Transport World, featuring 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. The topic was “The Challenges of Aircraft Provisioning, Configuration and Maintenance Execution,” which has been of great interest to airlines and MRO shops. Pryer describes how British Airways is working to increase efficiency within maintenance and engineering.
Improving First Time Fix Rates — It’s Not About Scheduling
Field Service Management is a crowded technology field, and there’s much ado about the importance of scheduling service calls to improve first-time fix rates (FTFR). But what good is it to get a technician to the service call if he doesn’t have the right parts and service information at his fingertips? Even service technicians with “the right talent” can’t fix everything if they don’t have updated/accurate parts and service information.
OEM Data: The New Flying Fortress
Airplanes need to be serviced and replenished so that they can keep generating revenue. For that, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems exist: managing inventory, resources, planning and scheduling. In simple words, the ERP determines "who does what, when, and where?" Unfortunately, the technical documentation provided by manufacturers, which describes "how" to fix the airplanes, is not built to support modern airlines and their ERP systems. Using the B-17 analogy, it seems that OEMs care less about the "flying" and more about the "fortress."
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.
Here's some news, hot off the MRO press...
Atitech, the former Alitalia maintenance company and the largest aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Italy, has selected Enigma and Rusada to provide the most comprehensive planning and execution system for independent MRO facilities in the world.
The joint solution will integrate engineering and planning modules from Rusada with dynamic job card and technical content modules from Enigma, resulting in the most advanced MRO system for critical aircraft maintenance. The Atitech solution also includes complete financial and inventory modules. The Enigma-Rusada system will allow Atitech to accept and schedule MRO orders from airlines around the globe on very short notice. Loading the PDF, XML and SGML-based maintenance content using the Enigma smart knowledge system and feeding the planning and engineering modules of Rusada gives Atitech the capability to quote, plan and produce C and D check work packages in a matter of days, and sometimes hours, versus the many months that are often required today: all with updated content.
Enigma will provide the following modules: InService MRO, Job Card Generator and Revision Manager. Rusada will provide the following module: Envision asset management system. Enigma InService MRO provides an ATA-compliant technical information system, with effectivity filtering, for aircraft, engine and component manuals. InService Job Card Generator automates the production of dynamic, step-by-step task cards that are used by technicians and inspectors to guide maintenance practices and document regulatory compliance. InService Revision Manager automates the process of reviewing OEM and airline-specific maintenance changes, resolving conflicts and updating all relevant information systems.
Atitech selected the Enigma-Rusada solution over competing non-integrated offerings to replace the existing MRO solution used by Alitalia. The Rusada professional services team will also integrate Envision with SAP, AMOS, and Atitech’s time reporting and HR systems.
As an independent, 3rd party MRO organization, Atitech provides comprehensive support for numerous airlines. As such, Atitech planners and technicians will rely on the joint solution as the source for all information related to airframe and component maintenance, which includes OEM and airline-specific maintenance manuals and parts catalogs, and all Atitech and airline-specific maintenance supplements, service bulletins and schematics. The Enigma-Rusada solution will support maintenance for a wide variety of airframes, including the Airbus A320 family, Boeing 737 family and MD 80 family. 350 licensed maintenance engineers and mechanics, including 70 administrators, will utilize the solution at the company’s heavy maintenance base in Naples, Italy.
Read more here...
Tags: MRO, Customer Originated Changes, aircraft maintenance, Job Cards, technical documentation, OEM content, SAP, AMM, Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM), Illustrated Parts Catalogs (IPC), Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD), Master Parts Lists (MPL), SAP/HCL-Axon
I just returned from the 2nd Annual SAP Airline Solution Summit in Dallas, which brought together professionals from around the world from airlines, OEMs, MRO shops, software vendors, IT consultants and even rail professionals. It was an impressive group with a lot of give-and-take between the presenters, the exhibitors and the audience.
During the afternoon breakout sessions, Enigma presented on the topic “Maintenance Scheduling and Integration to Technical Information.” It was a topic that drew a large audience, since we described the impact of OEM revisions on airlines, specifically on the efficiency, consistency and cost of MRO operations. Within this context, Enigma introduced a strategy for improving revision management and adoption through better technology and integration with ERP, tech pubs and maintenance planning systems.
The fact is, how OEM revisions and engineering orders/modifications are managed and integrated into scheduled and unscheduled maintenance activities affects the speed and compliance of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Since we are talking about revenue-generating assets, MRO efficiency and quality affects the very core of business operations. As a result, for many airlines keeping tech pubs and ERP/MRO systems up-to-date and synchronized has become a full-time job. (This is not unique to airlines but affects every transportation company and transit authority.)
Of particular interest to this audience was that Enigma automatically extracts information from the OEM’s illustrated parts catalogs (IPC), maintenance planning documents (MPD) and maintenance manuals (AMM/EM) and then updates the master parts list (MPL), maintenance requirements (MR) and job cards (task cards) in SAP. This ensures that service and parts data is always in-sync across the airline, whether it is used in a hangar/depot or in the field/flight-line. Since OEMs revise and update their technical documents frequently, airlines consider data accuracy and synchronization to be a huge benefit in terms of maintenance productivity, quality and compliance.
Another consideration is that because technical content directly impacts an airline’s second largest workforce (mechanics and engineers), the quality of that content, more than almost any other factor, determines if an MRO/ERP system succeeds or fails. When Enigma shared some industry metrics regarding the number of OEM changes, and the impact on maintenance operations, it proved the point and highlighted the need for an integrated solution of SAP, HCL-Axon and Enigma to improve aircraft MRO.
The audience in Dallas was very receptive to the insights Enigma was able to provide. Following our presentation, we had a number of conversations regarding the application of this solution beyond airlines including: rail, maritime and freight. We appreciate SAP inviting Enigma to participate in this annual event and hope to have similar opportunities in the future.
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.
I just came back from the SAP Airlines Summit in Texas, which assembled over one hundred airline and MRO professionals from around the world: an impressive cross-section of the commercial aviation industry.
Jonathan Yaron, Enigma’s CEO, sat on a panel with Yasushi Suzuka, Vice President – Maintenance Corporate Planning & Administration, Engineering & Maintenance at Japan Airlines, Paul Noah, Project Manager for Application Development at United Airlines, and Phil Te Hau, Director Solution Management, Travel Services Industry Solutions at SAP. It was a roundtable discussion on “Maintenance Scheduling and Integration to Technical Information” and there was significant interest regarding the role of service information in MRO scheduling, and hangar and line maintenance.
The fact is, while most large airlines use software for maintenance scheduling, they still rely on paper for maintenance execution and approval. If you look closely at the entire maintenance environment you will see that technical information affects nearly every activity. So, in an environment where electronic information is driving everything from maintenance scheduling, to inventory, to supply chains, productivity is being de-railed by the paper trail. There is so much technical information required to properly service and repair an aircraft that paper-driven processes can’t keep up. This is the challenge that these industry experts discussed—how airlines and MRO shops can enjoy the benefits of moving to electronic processes while improving safety and compliance.
Before integrating technical information into the MRO scheduling environment, some airlines reported a 2-6 month lag between receiving revised OEM manuals and delivering approved changes into the hands of technicians. Panel members indicated that modern systems can accomplish this very complex process in a matter of days. (That includes comparing the new revision against current practices, resolving potential conflicts, processing approvals and delivering to the field.)
In another example from the panel, preparing documentation necessary for a D-Check (a major maintenance event), which used to take months, can now be accomplished in minutes. Other issues that were addressed include: supporting 3rd party MROs in this environment; lack of synchronization between Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD) and Master Parts Lists (MPL); configuration control (especially for ETOPS aircraft); and the ways in which PDF and SGML/XML can work together.
The audience seemed to appreciate the insights provided by these aviation experts. This was a candid conversation between airlines and solution providers that discussed current technical challenges as well as future opportunities. We appreciate SAP inviting us to participate in this event and hope to have similar opportunities in the future.
Companies that manufacture complex equipment are starting to invest in e-business solutions to help sell aftermarket parts. These are products like Oracle E-Business Suite, SAP mySAP Business Suite and IBM WebSphere Commerce. When linked to ERP, CRM and other supply chain systems, e-commerce products can significantly improve order management and order processing. They can check a customer’s credit, verify product availability, apply customer discounts, track order status and payment, and so on—all of which are important elements of the customer’s experience.
Yet while these e-commerce products decrease order processing costs, our experience indicates that they don’t really increase revenues. Why not?
One reason may be that, when it comes to selling parts online, ordering a part is not the same as selecting a part. Order management systems are not designed to help customers figure out what to order, so in reality they only solve half the problem. If a parts manager, field technician or end-customer doesn’t have parts and service information handy, he/she is likely to 1) spend too much time looking for the right part number, or 2) order multiple parts in the hope that one of them will work.
For a service technician to find a part, he may need to start with assembly diagrams, or troubleshooting instructions, and “drill down” to pinpoint the right item(s). By linking the parts catalog to the relevant service documentation, with interactive assembly drawings and integrated service bulletins and maintenance notes, it becomes much easier to find the proper parts quickly. If it is too difficult and time-consuming to find the right part, assembly or kit, the customer or parts manager is likely to look elsewhere to buy their parts.
OEMs can increase aftermarket profits by making it simple to find and buy parts and service information. For distributors, this means they can quickly serve their customers while also reducing mean-time-to-repair (MTTR), increasing first-time-fix-rate (FTFR) and decreasing the number of mis-ordered parts.
To maximize ROI, a parts catalog must be designed to support equipment with complex maintenance requirements and multiple configurations/dependencies. It must integrate seamlessly with an OEM’s e-commerce and back-office investments and extend certain aspects of these enterprise applications to distributors and customers. Enigma InService EPC is such a product, and is proven to minimize the cost of ownership and add value to key IT investments.
For OEMs trying to figure out how to get more from an e-business strategy, an electronic parts catalog should be a key component.
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!