Aircraft Maintenance Management and Material Management: The gifts that keep on giving!
by Saidhar Pathigari, VP New Business at Commsoft OASES
Break with tradition
Anyone concerned with aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary) is concerned about safety, airworthiness, and MRO efficiency and logistics. As temperatures drop in the winter months, these concerns take on a new dimension, not least in terms of the need for regular de-icing. Scheduling and preventive maintenance are not disciplines that should be applied in an undisciplined manner.
Yet there are still operators who believe that the way they have always done things, having proved effective in the past, is more than adequate for the needs of today and possibly even for the future. They still use paper-based systems and place enormous reliance on, and trust in, their operatives to conduct essential regular procedures in a seamless fashion.
Safety is not about trusting instincts;
it’s about rigorous adherence to acknowledged best practice,
increasingly assured through digital technologies.
I have some observations to make about the role of innovation as the new tradition all operators might be well advised to give due consideration to.
The backdrop to these observations is that about 40 of the world’s countries pay little or no attention to the Festive Season, also known as ‘Christmas’. Of these, 18 countries do not observe it at all. Conversely, 155 countries follow the tradition, erect trees in their homes, eat turkey on Christmas Day (December 25), and exchange gifts.
It is an occasionally disputed fact that these gifts are delivered by Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. In terms of celebrity status, the global fame of this individual is almost as great as that of David Beckham.
Tradition, fact, myth, or nonsense, what we do know about Father Christmas is that he lives in the North Pole, powers his transportation with nine reindeers, and makes home deliveries to all 155 countries. His delivery expertise makes Amazon look like a small business. All deliveries are undertaken with the use of one type of vehicle—used as a land vehicle in some places—with its all-terrain capabilities adapted to render it capable of flight.
Mechanically ingenious though Santa’s sleigh is (it carries all presents as a one-off payload) it can be assumed that the maintenance activities required are scheduled and tracked using paper-based systems. There is no known evidence of digital transformation having taken place in Santa’s ‘grotto’ up there in the usually frozen North.
It is this sleigh I wish to draw attention to and offer some words of advice on how to ensure that its arduous and global journeys are conducted in full confidence that the procedure involved in ensuring safe flying have all been conducted on schedule.
A schedule can be disrupted for the most avoidable of reasons—lack of requisite parts in the store, at the time they are required for maintenance tasks. Santa is ably assisted by an expansive team of elves who work year-round to both assemble the aforementioned pay-load and to prepare the sleight for flight.
The impact of this flight not being able to take off at its allocated time would resound globally (or, at least, through a large part of the globe). The impact of flight delays in the real world can be equally damaging, with potential loss of income, coupled with reputational effects.
Inventory management needs to be fully integrated. This means that operatives (or elves) should be able to check stock and issue parts on the move, log them in and out automatically, create orders and know that the necessary documentation passes instantaneously through to accounts.
Maintenance teams need to know what tasks are coming their way. They need to be completely aware of the forthcoming pattern of demands on their services, and their time, and be able to plan accordingly. No maintenance team, anywhere other than in the North Pole, has the luxury of long-drawn out schedules; all timing is sensitive given the tendency of schedule disruptions to reverberate through all other planned operations on any particular day. This, again, is where digitisation comes in.
When users can monitor status easily, viewing clearly colour-coded dashboards
on any connected device, they gain the flexibility to re-schedule smoothly,
rather than having to backlog hurriedly and try to catch up.
Their tasks require diligence and attention to detail, care and focus.
Operating under undue pressure is when mistakes can happen.
The mobile advantage
What happens when you take these capabilities — integrated material/inventory management, and digitised maintenance control — and combine them in a mobile app, is that you save time, streamline workflows, and increase productivity. Nobody needs to keep going back and forth to the main office to access systems. The information they need is readily available from wherever they may need to access it or, more importantly, act upon it.
OASES is committed to continuous innovation in our software solutions because we know — through regular customer dialogue — that this is what the aviation sector wants and what it needs. Procedures can always be improved and we aim to improve them.
The world is digital. Those who transport people and cargoes around it, and those who deliver mission-critical maintenance services, need to be at least as digitally advanced as less critical sectors such as retail, leisure and hospitality, entertainment. They need to be at least on par with healthcare, manufacturing, engineering and even defence.
Up in the North Pole, deep inside Santa’s grotto, they may never make the grade. They can continue to weave their magic in fantasy-land. For the rest of us, today’s reality is about clarity and insight, responsibility and productivity, transparency and efficiency.
Whatever your beliefs or traditions are in relation to the Festive Season I would like to wish you all a healthy and happy end to the year, and a safe and prosperous 2023. Please get in touch if you want to discuss plans for the coming year and ensure that your approach to maintenance is as Best Practice as you can possibly make it.
Just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org