Faraz Khalid, Head of Product, at Commsoft OASES
OASES Product Manager, Faraz Khalid, has been evaluating and charting the next phase of the OASES development roadmap. We’re set to go a step deeper in enabling you to truly leverage data for better insights with Business Intelligence (BI).
Here he gives a preview of direction in embedding a BI function within OASES
Greater predictability than ever
Airlines and MRO produce vast amounts of data. This is a function of the digital age. The data accumulates, residing in servers or in the cloud; an asset waiting to be exploited. Airlines and MRO have traditionally used data for two primary purposes:
- Reporting: Gathering data into reports for assessing the effectiveness and/or the cost of actions already undertaken; a reliable way of learning from the past.
- Planning: Using historic data to inform activities such as maintenance, modification and defect limitation tasks by automatically generating work package documentation and material pre-loads. This capability also facilitates the tracking of airworthiness directives and service bulletins, and the inclusion in works orders of the requisite actions and all pertinent electronic documentation. You can see more about the OASES granular reporting functionality here.
While reporting and observing from the past is invaluable, it is, by definition, subject to a time-lag. We are now about to take this to the next level by enabling insights in real-time, specifically to address aircraft maintenance procedures given that maintenance is the most significant cost centre for any Airline.
It is this significance—the focus of the ongoing costs involved—that renders aircraft maintenance not only one of the greatest areas of need for cost reduction, but also the area of greatest cost saving potential.
Where does the maintenance cost saving lie?
There is a huge difference between the maintenance required for a new aircraft compared to that required for one that has been in service for some time. The checks multiply the older an aircraft becomes. Yet the available information, the data to inform these checks, is only available through experience; there is no objective, established approach on which any prediction of the likely maintenance costs can be based. Costs, therefore, come to light as tasks are identified for action when the aircraft is in the hangar.
The process of discovery, can lead to unforeseen costs, and sometimes difficult conversations about escalations in the required maintenance budget. This is an unreliable business model, albeit an unavoidable variable.
While the variable cannot be avoided, the unwelcome shocks can, if they are predicted. This would eliminate surprises while bringing a more pertinent benefit—the earlier identification of costs serves to pinpoint the actions that can be taken to reduce them. This is the value of BI.
Direct and indirect cost escalation
For a new aircraft, planning periodic maintenance such as a C Check (usually every 20-24 months) is informed by manuals supplied by the OEM. These invariably indicate that the tasks involved will require approximately 6,000 man-hours. The downtime can run up to four weeks. Airlines and MRO can plan around these guidelines.
The parameters are less well established for older aircraft. Some tasks can involve two to three times more work than that required for a new aircraft, leaving Airlines and MRO without a reliable basis for predicting both out-of-service time and costs.
Schedules and budgets are both impacted. Contingencies for continuous service in the air are required. Indirect costs from such maintenance variables add to the burden of the changeable direct costs of the maintenance itself.
There is a planning fallacy that says that a complex project will always take longer to complete than you think it will. This is an untenable situation in most businesses, and critically so in aviation maintenance.
We’re shaping our BI initiative at OASES around addressing this problem. In one of my previous roles, I was Senior Maintenance Planner at ExecuJet Middle East in Dubai. Planning scheduled and unscheduled maintenance inputs—taking into consideration manpower, facility, tooling and material availability—were in my remit.
While we used OEM manuals as guidelines in endeavouring to estimate costs and time, the final bill for maintenance of some aircraft often came in higher than expected. I understand the frustration and difficulties this can cause.
Minimise the unknown: OASES Insights – Advanced Data Analytics
Even regular tasks take longer with an older aircraft. The intention with the OASES BI feature is that the data you accumulate in the normal run of operations—those instances where you have encountered precisely these problems—will augment the OEM manual. The BI tool will display far more accurate timing and cost information. This, in turn, will alleviate the burden on aircraft scheduling, minimising the unknown.
Many OASES users have been users for some time. That means you already have the data in your servers or in the cloud that will feed into the BI functionality. You will no longer have to compile detailed report to inform C Checks.
Through an advanced data analytics layer to OASES, you will be able to interrogate the data in real-time to access proven information based on actual experience.
When it comes to tasks such as running a works order, for example, you will be able to display live information—via a dashboard you can configure to how you want it to display the information—giving proven parameters on the costs and time allocation you know are involved.
The information can be retrieved in a way that each role requires it. Engineers, Planners and Materials Managers, for example, all require access to specific data. A materials manager will be able to look far more closely at materials pending and overdue, to be able to act in a far timelier manner; not catching up with requirements but keeping ahead of them. Live information will drive proactive operations.
Best of all, the BI function is an analytics layer. It will sit on top of the data you already have. You already have the power to make smarter decisions and now OASES is getting ready to help you unleash it.
The team here are very excited about this new dimension we are about to add to OASES. We believe it will enable Airlines and MRO to add a new dimension to their own understanding about the multitudinous waves of information their systems accumulate which until now, this has been the basis of sound retrospective reporting, but was focussed on looking at the past. Get ready to look at the future.