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How a New GE Aviation-Capgemini Data Partnership Could Revolutionize MRO

Although GE Aviation’s new Digital Alliance data-transmission partnership with Teledyne Controls may have generated more MRO-related publicity so far, the Configuration Data Exchange partnership with Capgemini that GE Aviation also announced on 15 November may have farther-reaching and deeper implications for the commercial-aviation MRO business.

Configuration Data Exchange, which will use the Predix cloud-based, large-scale data analytics system that parent company GE has developed over a period of several years, will serve as a data pipeline that will allow for two-way asset data flow between airlines, MROs, lessors, OEMs and parts brokers, according to GE Aviation.

Today, according to Jim Daily, GE Aviation’s chief digital officer, the airline industry spends $4 billion a year in managing MRO records and configuration and certification data manually. Managing such data manually creates “major inefficiencies” in airlines’ and commercial-aviation support companies’ overall technical-data management practices.

According to GE Aviation, although these companies have been capturing and processing aircraft sensor data and fault codes for years, there remains a considerable information gap within the commercial-aviation industry with respect to maintenance, repair and installed-configuration data.

The many, widely disparate IT systems that airlines, MRO facilities and parts providers use for maintenance and engineering record-keeping – as well as the countless millions of paper and PDF records they keep – are a key barrier to airlines and lessors being able to reduce their operating costs and improving aircraft- and engine-asset utilization, says GE Aviation.

According to Daily, in many cases it is almost impossible – and at the very least extremely difficult and expensive – to add modules to these legacy IT systems which would provide easy access to and sharing of MRO, parts-certification and aircraft installed-configuration data.

In turn, this makes it almost impossible for ‘Big data’ predictive-analytics to be performed on MRO and aircraft- and engine-configuration records. The many different types of digital and analogue files (including paper records) in which these are kept often hinders the ability of airlines, MRO facilities, lessors and financiers to find in timely fashion the aircraft and engine MRO and certification records required during lease-return and ownership-change transactions.

With this in mind, GE Aviation will use the Predix cloud-based, predictive-analytics system developed by GE for use throughout its own industrial activities, to offer (with IT outsourcing giant Capgemini) third-party airlines, lessors, parts companies and MRO facilities a way to capture, record and share all the disparate forms of MRO and configuration data they generate.

For its own Predix predictive data-analytics uses, GE has already developed a range of powerful data-capture algorithms – including optical character recognition techniques, among others – that allow Predix to record within a single internally held file type all the many different file types its own wide range of subsidiary companies use. This makes Predix truly IT system-agnostic, according to Daily.

Through the Configuration Data Exchange these algorithms, along with others GE Aviation says can be developed for Predix where necessary, will allow third-party customers to have Predix record, store and process for predictive MRO and other data uses all their existing aircraft and engine maintenance, repair, configuration and certification records. Then, because Predix is a cloud-based, industrial-scale data-analytics system, such customers will be able to download processed, predictive analytical data from Predix via the Internet and store and manipulate it within their preferred file types within their legacy IT systems. Through Predix, they will also be able to share this data with their own customers.

Capgemini’s long experience in implementing installations of enterprise and business IT systems at companies throughout the world makes it a perfect fit for GE Aviation in marketing and scaling the Configuration Data Exchange system for deployment worldwide, according to Daily.

Additionally, he says, Capgemini’s relationships with and insights into the file-type requirements of MRO facilities and other aviation companies which are its customers will allow GE Aviation to refine and scale the Configuration Data Exchange much more quickly than GE Aviation could by itself.

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