SIA Engineering posted an operating profit of $S76 million on revenue of $S1,095 in the year ended March 31, 2018. That represented a very modest 4% return on S$1,819 in total assets. And revenue was actually down slightly, 0.8% from the previous financial year, mostly due to a loss of fleet-management revenue.
To help reverse the slippage, management says it “has embarked on a transformation journey to enhance productivity, streamline processes and increase competitiveness.” SIAEC also says it wants to “invest in innovation and technology.”
MRO is a lot more than turning wrenches reliably and economically these days. So SIAEC has begun to do what some other major MROs and OEMs are doing. It has sought help from data-oriented analytic firms that can improve how efficiently mechanics support aircraft.
On the predictive maintenance side, SIAEC has partnered with Safran Analytics. This is the OEM’s Big Data unit, looking to support both Safran and Safran customers in exploiting data to gain efficiency.
“We are already working with SIAEC, we started just after the signature of our agreement and have meetings every week,” notes analytics director Ghislaine Doukhan. “Predictive maintenance is the main subject we are currently working on. Our target is to minimize unscheduled removals.” Her analysts are addressing unscheduled maintenance problems in all the areas where Safran supplies airlines, in engines, landing gear, electrical systems and avionics.
Minimizing maintenance surprises is one aim of a good maintenance strategy and may bring some of that fleet-management business back. Another goal is doing unscheduled maintenance as quickly and effectively as possible. That is where Casebank Technologies, now a division of ATP, comes in.
SVP of strategy Phil D’eon says Casebank has been helping airlines with troubleshooting on the line since 1999. Its SpotLight and ChronicX applications now support 10,000 aircraft at 300 operators.
Spotlight combines OEM data on failure modes with mechanics’ descriptions of past troubleshooting experience to guide mechanics through troubleshooting steps. D’eon says experiments have shown this guidance enables even inexperienced mechanics to do the job in half the time it takes veteran techs, unaided by SpotLight, to do it and in one quarter of the time unaided novice mechanics take. And SpotLight also improves the first-time-fix rate, reducing future unscheduled maintenance events and delays.
SpotLight is offered by OEMs like Gulfstream, Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney to support their equipment. D’eon says it has been used chiefly for line maintenance so far, but he is looking into helping out with heavy checks in the future.
By early June, Casebank was working with SIAEC to discuss the scope of help to be provided. D’eon says implementation could come as early as this summer.
Partnering on both these fronts, predictive maintenance and line troubleshooting, may become the new normal for full-service MROs that offer flight-hour programs and want to stay competitive.