Industry Execs See Inflection Point In MRO Industry

Streamlining isn’t always easy. But in the case of technology, it might be.

Like many of you, I suffer from information overload. As much as I like to stay informed, sometimes streaming information and 300 daily emails can feel like clutter.

So how do we distill it to focus on what’s important? The trick involves knowing when to add or subtract.

Look at our MRO of the Year Award winners (see page MRO4). Three of our winners—AFI KLM Engineering & Maintenance, Haeco and Kuehne+Nagel—added capabilities but bundled them to simplify the aftermarket for their customers. Another winner, Nordam, reduced the complexity of F/A-18A-D engine bay doors by eliminating the unique fastener pattern of each door and creating one configuration to streamline the repair process.

At the Aeronautical Repair Station Association’s annual symposium in mid-March, FAA Administrator -Michael Huerta stressed that the agency supports eliminating redundant MRO safety audits and is implementing risk-based approaches to deliver improvements to the system—so less is more. Actions such as this shift resources to higher risk areas, “which means we’re not treating everyone and every problem the same,” he says. For front-line inspectors who follow black-and-white checklists, “now we’re asking them to evaluate shades of gray, which can be hard for people to work through.” 

Streamlining isn’t always easy. But in the case of technology, it might be.

Several industry executives with whom I’ve spoken recently have emphasized that technology has reached an inflection point—and our industry should soon see data distillation in more meaningful ways.

Take Rockwell Collins, which for years has provided information enablement, from routers to avionics, but now can transmit flight-critical information during flight—instead of aggregating it after landing. “We see a logarithmic need to pipe more information” for efficiency and safety across the aviation ecosystem, says Kent Statler, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.  But it’s not just piping the information. “It’s the ability to transfer data into information—that is where the value of the data is unlocked,” he says.

During our conversation, he revealed that Rockwell Collins plans to leverage apps and services on top of the data—or even offer a subscription-based business warehouse. Similar to Apple, which itself does not offer a lot of apps—“it provides the secure highway—and developers pay a license,” says Statler.

Don’t be surprised if Rockwell Collins moves into this space within the next year.

Matthew Bromberg, Pratt & Whitney’s aftermarket president, also believes the industry is at a turning point with data and discusses on page MRO50 how the OEM is working with IBM on intelligence workscopes. “We built a model with IBM that can predict inflight shutdowns to a 99% accuracy, looking forward 12 months,” says Bromberg.

All of these business examples identify one thing: unlocking value. Whether you add or subtract to get there isn’t as important—but getting to the value proposition is. 

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