A version of this article appears in the September 8 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.
Much of the industry’s focus has been on integrated planning, or sharing information across different functional areas and players in the supply chain. There are important initiatives underway to collect and use more data than ever.
At Airbus, for instance, one initiative is to analyze provisioning activities across the life cycle of an aircraft. “We’re moving away from a narrow focus on selling to looking at the events that are relevant to provisioning activities of the aircraft or a fleet at various stages of its life cycle,” says Tamas Stefka, senior director of integrated provisioning services at SCSM, Airbus. “We want to understand what is needed at various stages that isn’t currently being addressed.” Elements might include changing the composition of a fleet, introducing new aircraft types, or changing the intensity of the operation by flying more or flying different routes. Each aspect may change the drivers of maintenance and parts requirements.
Boeing, meanwhile, is developing its Maintenance Performance Toolbox, or maintenance optimization, which is a suite a tools that move data to the point where the work is being performed. “We’re really trying to create a framework where mechanics, like pilots, are paperless,” says John Maggiore, director of fleet and maintenance solutions for Boeing’s digital aviation business unit.
As an example, Maggiore describes a set of mobile applications that would allow a mechanic to troubleshoot a problem based on a pilot’s write-up, determine a solution, determine whether a part is available on site and if not, input the demand signal to get the part delivered from stock or placed on order, all without leaving the aircraft. “We can create major efficiencies in the supply chain and later leverage that information to identify where and when parts are available, and when they are not,” says Maggiore.
The key to making the best use of these initiatives is integrating the applications to share data. “There are a lot of solutions already in place across the value chain, but they’re often not linked to one another,” says Stefka. “You end up having different planning information with the OEM, the maintenance shop or the MRO executing the work on the aircraft.”
Stefka says the aviation industry should take a cue from the transportation and cargo industry, which is enabled to share key logistics information across the supply chain to track the movement of goods. “If we do that, we can anticipate the same kind of achievements in aviation,” he says.