This blog post originally appeared as an article in the Aug/Sep 2015 issue of the AircraftIT MRO eJournal.
An industry defined by aggressive cost control has underspent on information management
The business of aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul is one that, by its very nature, pushes the limits of economic efficiency, safety, and regulatory compliance. Independent MROs, who are often tasked with working with a large number of customer operators, must become adept at leveraging content, tools, and processes that often originate outside their organizations – and to do it in a safe, economical, and repeatable manner. Doing this on a global scale with thousands of aircraft maintenance technicians and scores of customers using a wide range of technical information management tools is the challenge facing the largest independent MROs today.
The need to manage content in both structured and unstructured forms, and to be able to reflect updates to reflect proprietary MRO best practices, is more critical to success than ever before.
For training or technical publishing departments supporting engineering teams in the field, this need for agility and flexibility has often meant a ‘lean and mean’ approach to information management, and a reluctance to add any authoring or revision management overhead to content that is the primary responsibility of customer operators. In place of authoring tools and processes MROs needed flexible mechanisms to distribute customer managed technical information and the applications to access it on their own terms paper-based or digital, PDF or HTML – rather than manage the information or its delivery internally in any meaningful way. But with technical information increasingly integral to aircraft, the need to manage content in both structured and unstructured forms, and to be able to reflect updates to reflect proprietary MRO best practices, is more critical to success than ever before.
Standardized viewers, authoring tools, and processes bring benefits and improved competitiveness
However, independent MROs have new reasons to consider investing in more robust infrastructure for management of aviation technical information, and for allocating staff resources to its upkeep and administration.
Some of the benefits and change catalysts that have surfaced in recent years thanks to changes to the aviation ecosystem include:
- Improved ability to respond to competitive pressures from OEM and Operator MROs who often have systems to capture and reflect best practices in their maintenance technical information.
- End user productivity and training efficiencies possible through adoption of a single, standardized solution for capturing, viewing, and signing off on maintenance documents regardless of their source.
- Flexibility with regards to content formats, specifications, and issues used by next generation aircraft programs including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 as well as iSpec 2200 and unstructured fleets.
- Integration options for eEnabled and smart assets and their associated fault code information, which can be used to assemble work packages pre-emptively Improved process automation through tighter integration with the customer’s enterprise using flexible web service integrations, including:
- Maintenance technical publishing platforms used to share relevant maintenance manual and job card content;
- MRO and maintenance planning programs used to share details on aircraft maintenance histories or planned maintenance work;
- ERP and finance systems used to authorize or invoice for work performed.
- Ability to cultivate proprietary best practices aimed at delivering a differentiating level of service through the ability to reflect content revisions internally to quickly capture and formalize new insights from the field for improved competitive position.
Replacing a light touch with tight control
Changes in the makeup of today’s MRO ecosystem, including new generation eEnabled aircraft and a growing field of competitors from OEM and Operator organizations, mean that it is time for independent MROs to reconsider the value of some investments in technical information management.
By investing in a technical information management infrastructure and adding proprietary revisions, MROs can provide a differentiating level of service and help continue the rapid growth that has helped propel the industry into prominence in recent years
By investing in a technical information management infrastructure capable of accepting externally authored content while also providing much-needed capabilities to standardize the presentation of content across customers and fleets for shorter training times and higher productivity; plus, by adding proprietary revisions aimed at enhanced safety, productivity and efficiency, MROs can provide a differentiating level of service and help continue the rapid growth that has helped propel the industry into prominence in recent years…. Or at least, that’s how I see IT.