Trax, the MRO software provider, has been extremely busy lately, says managing director Chris Reed. Last year was a bit slow in new business for MRO software, but things look like picking up, especially among low-cost and regional carriers, Reed says.
Trax did pick up a non-commercial operator in Saudi Arabia last year, along with a new maintenance firm in Japan and Transavia France. Nevertheless, the company’s big push in 2016 was on mobility and getting its new web-based version out. This was a major rewrite of a 20-year-old software.
Trax often competes with Swiss AviationSoftware’s AMOS product, which is owned by Swiss International Air Lines, part of the Lufthansa Group. Reed feels the Swiss firm thus gets some help on travel and office expenses from its parents, making it tough for Trax to compete on price. But he argues AMOS is still an old technology.
AMOS, like many other MRO software applications, is now going mobile. Reed says Trax went mobile three years ago and learned some important lessons about how to do it and how not to do it. Most important, a mobile MRO application that works only when users are online is not very useful. “Online needs stability, you can’t lose connections.” And airports and hangars are notoriously difficult environments to maintain connectivity. Trax’s first effort at mobile MRO software “did not work and did not sell.”
So Trax rewrote the application so that the mobile edition works both online and offline. Techs can use it offline, then synch up when they get online again. Reed believes this approach will be much more useful and popular.
The Trax exec says customers never leave Trax “intentionally.” He says Southwest Airlines “inherited” Trax when it acquired AirTran, and its old MaxiMerlin software could not cope with 737-800s. The carrier still has a couple hundred aircraft using Trax, Reed says.
Southwest is now transitioning to Maintenix, offered by Mxi Technologies, which has been acquired by the Swedish Enterprise Resource Planning firm IFS. Reed argues that Maintenix has been very good on maintenance, engineering and planning, but less strong on procurement. He believes IFS can bring strengths to Maintenix, but perhaps at a cost.