In the June, 2008 issue of Overhaul & Maintenance, Henry Canaday wrote an article titled “Better Operations With Smarter MRO.” In this article the author states, “Airline operations are affected mightily by the quality and frequency of maintenance, and these effects grow more intense as jet fuel prices skyrocket.” He also points out that maintenance departments are giving “more attention to traditional best practices, redefining best practices to fit the new economic environment or adopting new techniques developed especially for this brutal time.”
The article goes on to describe 20 ways that airlines can reduce operating costs or increase revenue through better maintenance practices. The ideas presented can be applied to most types of complex equipment. I’d like to highlight three of the author’s ideas that are relevant to not only the aircraft maintenance industry but to industries such as heavy equipment, rail and defense:
1. Reduce the mean time to repair (MTTR). For aircraft, the author states that it’s possible to eliminate two-days per heavy maintenance event, which could save as much as $200,000 per year. The point is, “more productive and better-deployed labor…” As I said in last week’s post, the key to reducing maintenance time and cost can be found in Lean Six Sigma (LSS). But rather than rushing to begin a lean initiative in search of efficiency, companies should pursue six sigma initiatives, which deliver maintenance consistency. Maintenance consistency will ensure higher quality and more predictability, which is the key to reducing maintenance delays. Consistency will also expose problems that can be addressed through Lean.
2. Avoid unnecessary or non-cost-effective maintenance. The key is to help companies determine which service bulletins and safety directives are relevant and necessary for their equipment. Because any significant maintenance almost always requires equipment downtime, evaluating new service information is critical to making the decision to proceed.
3. Focus on equipment reliability. Reliability is the key to success for the maintenance organization. Equipment must be fixed right the first time, because unscheduled downtime costs the operator far more than scheduled downtime. The article estimated that each hour of unplanned downtime for a typical aircraft costs the airline $6,000, not to mention the bad publicity.
How does Enigma help OEMs and operators achieve these goals?
First, the Enigma InService MRO, Electronic Parts Catalog and Job Card Generator ensure that mechanics always use the latest approved service procedures. Second, our software solutions integrate with maintenance planning systems, ensuring that mechanics perform all required service procedures and follow an optimized work flow. Third, the Enigma 3C Revision Manager helps maintenance planners understand whether new service information is relevant to their equipment, before maintenance begins.
Overhaul & Maintenance magazine does a good job highlighting the importance of reducing operating costs and improving uptime for the owners and operators of aircraft; however, the advice that’s offered is important to all industries, not just airlines.