Airlines and MRO shops are increasing investments in IT solutions that integrate and improve three critical aspects of MRO operations: inventory planning, maintenance scheduling and maintenance execution. This blog post looks at the opportunity for leveraging technical content to optimize inventory and the challenge of integration.
Inventory is a major priority for airlines and MROs because the carrying costs are so high. It’s a no-brainer that carrying the right inventory, and having the right amount of inventory in the right places, can cut costs and improve aircraft availability.
To properly plan maintenance and inventory, airlines and MROs rely on the ERP system, expecting it to be up-to-date and accurate. The information in the ERP system comes from maintenance manuals and parts catalogs. With each revision of the technical documentation, someone needs to evaluate and approve any changes before adding them to the ERP. This is a time-consuming process that typically involves 1) side-by-side comparisons to understand what changed and 2) manual data entry into the ERP. The result of this process is that the ERP system is frequently out-of-date with regard to latest parts and service recommendations. At the 2010 Air Transport Association eBusiness Forum, GE admitted that it’s not uncommon for airlines to be two or three revision cycles behind the OEM updates. Why? The conventional process of reconciling and implementing OEM changes takes too long.
How does this affect inventory? Each updated illustrated parts catalog (IPC) can contain over 5,000 modified parts lists. That’s over 40% of a typical IPC! While some changes may be specific to certain operating conditions, like ETOPS, airlines must evaluate every change to understand the impact; and any approved changes must be updated in the ERP. Since the IPC defines the valid parts for each aircraft, if revisions are not processed quickly then the ERP documents that drive inventory decisions will not be accurate—Minimum Equipment List (MEL), Master Parts List (MPL) and Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD). In fact, if an airline gets two or three revisions behind on maintenance manuals and parts catalogs the inventory and ERP system will no longer reflect actual fleet requirements, and inventory will become bloated with “dead” parts.
The solution to this problem is Enigma InService Revision Manager, which simplifies the process of reviewing and integrating OEM updates. It turns a labor-intensive task measured in weeks or months into an automated procedure often completed in hours or days. Revision Manager compares new maintenance revisions to existing information—previous OEM data as well as the airline’s own best practices—and uses customizable logic to accelerate the reconciliation process.
After the content is reconciled, the next important step is to make sure changes flow seamlessly into the ERP system. Airlines and MRO shops have seen the need for ERP integration for years but until recently, the technical hurdles were too high. Now the technology exists to automate this process.
Accurate technical documentation is needed throughout the MRO lifecycle, and across maintenance planning, engineering, technical publications, and line and base maintenance departments. In particular, maintenance technicians and parts managers need relevant, updated IPC content to guide procurement decisions; without it, they risk using the wrong parts and carrying excess or obsolete inventory.
Stay tuned for more posts related to this topic; we’ll discuss how to synchronize various maintenance documents, including the IPC, the MPD and the aircraft maintenance manual (AMM), to drive productivity and lower costs. We’ll also explain how effectivity filtering helps to manage logistics by helping identify which parts go with each specific aircraft and fleet.