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Time to Enable Mobility in

Aviation MRO Software Solutions


Puneet Gupta, Sandeep K. Dewangan, Sunil Gade

Summary
With the fortunes of MRO business mirroring that of the airline industry
in the global downturn, MRO players are under pressure to improve
productivity and cut costs. Hence, making investments in technology that
enable higher automation of maintenance, repair and overhaul processes
makes sound business sense. Independent Software Vendors (ISV) of
specialized MRO applications must seize this opportunity and mobilize
their solutions so that processes can be further automated. There are several
factors contributing to the enterprise-readiness of mobility - including
availability of device hardware and network connectivity as well as users
favorable disposition towards mobile usage.

Jun 2009

MRO business overview


Each year, the aviation industry spends a whopping amount on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), second only to
fuel. In 2007, the size of the global MRO industry was estimated at US $ 45 billion; this is expected to touch US $ 61 billion
by 2017. As per industry projections, the size of the worldwide air transport fleet will expand by nearly 50 percent in the
decade to 2017, and consequently spur rapid growth of the MRO business.
Notwithstanding the emergence of software solutions for process automation in this space, aviation MRO remains a highly
effort-intensive service business, sustaining on thin margins - for instance, labor accounts for an astounding two-thirds of
the total cost of heavy maintenance of aircraft. It's the same with line maintenance, the most labor-intensive segment of this
business. The reason? Although software applications for MRO processes are essentially run in a desktop or laptop-based
environment, data capture and reporting continue to rely heavily on manual intervention. Indeed, it has been found that
some maintenance and service personnel spend up to 80 percent of their time on just searching for and verifying information
that is required to execute their tasks.

The automation imperative in MRO industry


With the fortunes of this business mirroring that of the airline industry in the global downturn, MRO players are under
pressure to improve productivity and whittle down costs in a bid for survival. Indeed, expectations are that in 2009, revenues
might fall below the levels of 2001, dragged down by the North American market which will take the largest hit. Should the
markets pick up quickly, regions such as Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia will lead the charge with an above average
growth rate, thereby creating pockets of demand and supply imbalance. In this scenario, it is expected that there would be
minimal impact on investments in new inspection methods and prognostic health monitoring implying that demand for
these specific services would continue to be robust. That being said, even a relatively slow pull-back, that could take around
four years, will create a demand that the industry will be hard put to meet with its current capacity. At the same time, it
is expected that competitive pressures could erode the market share of higher cost MROs, forcing them to consider cost
reduction strategies such as replacing manual effort with more automation in order to increase process efficiency.
While it is yet unclear as to whether the markets will stage a rapid comeback or take a few years to recover, it is imperative
that in the interim, MRO service providers ready themselves to face a future most likely characterized by capacity shortage
and rising labor cost.

2 | Infosys White Paper

Given this scenario, making investments in technology that enable higher automation of maintenance and repair processes
seems like an obvious course of action for MRO service providers. Independent Software Vendors (ISV) of specialized MRO
applications must seize this opportunity and mobilize their solutions to automate processes even further, such that their
clients dependence on manual effort comes down and they reap the benefits of higher efficiency and cost saving. It is equally
important that ISVs recognize the need for expedient action.
Mobilization of MRO processes must surely form an integral part of any automation strategy. Advances in mobile computing
and communication technology have enabled MRO software applications to be run on devices such as laptops, portable
computers and PDAs. Past concerns about the enterprise-readiness of mobilization technology or its complexity of use are
no longer valid. Enterprise mobility has taken giant steps in terms of capability, usability and affordability to become a very
realizable option.
The following factors have made mobilization technology ready for deployment in MRO software applications:
Handset options have multiplied manifold, ranging from high-end enterprise devices to low cost models for personal
use. In keeping with the needs of industrial users, such as those working in the MRO business, extra-rugged mobile
devices designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions are also available. Quite clearly, handset availability has
expanded to cater to every type of end use and price point.
Wireless technology has evolved to provide reliable, high speed 2.5 and 3 G connectivity, using which information is
made available online, in real time to the remote field force. In this way, mobility enables dynamic work allocation and
continuous progress reporting from the field, which is otherwise not possible in the traditional MRO workflow.
Mobile usage has found widespread acceptance among end users, who use these devices to perform a number of
functions in their daily lives. Therefore, they can be easily persuaded and trained to use mobility at work.
The good news is that mobility has started to make inroads into the MRO business. With valuable process-related
information being made available online, in real-time to their personnel, the early adopters among MRO service providers
have reaped the benefits of lower cost, reduced cycle time, increased productivity and improved customer satisfaction. A
global corporation with over US $ 11 billion in revenues from their aviation business, cut the time for logging and processing
inspection readings by half when they replaced their paper-based system with one run on pocket PCs. The value of mobility
to the aviation MRO business is once again demonstrated in the response time of one of the worlds largest providers of such
services - 90 percent of all service calls are now attended to within ten minutes or less.

Infosys White Paper | 3

Typical MRO processes and bottlenecks


The potential impact of mobility on MRO process applications can be ascertained by understanding the work and
documentation flow in a typical maintenance activity. The engineering team analyzes and monitors process control data and
alerts the planning and scheduling personnel to any impending maintenance requirements. Maintenance tasks are scheduled,
work orders are created and resources are allocated accordingly.

At the start of each day, work requests are created centrally on a software system by a team that may need to put together
information from multiple sources. These work requests have to be printed and manually handed over for use by field
personnel, who, in the absence of mobility, depend on paper-based instructions. Therefore, despite automation, manual
intervention is required to access and transmit the work requests from a central office to various field locations.

Purchase Requests

Maintenance
Engineering

Maintenance Planning and


Scheduling

Material Management

Parts Inventory Management


Procurements
Shipping and Receiving
Warehouse operations
Tool management
Loan/borrowing

M a t e r i a l R e q u e s ts

HR Management

Work order information


Procedures
Job cards
Work License
Part History

Warehouse

Work
Allocation

Maintenance Personnel

Customer
Relationship/Sales

Pay
to

Searching Technical Data,


Manuals,
Data sheets
Technical specs

Status Reporting
Logging Work Hours

Repairing and inspection

Report
Material Handling

Inspection
Logs

Technical Coordination

4 | Infosys White Paper

Once the work request is handed over at the beginning of the day, in the absence of field force connectivity, the central office
has no visibility into the status of the assignment until it is logged into the system after completion. Another drawback of this
workflow is that mid-day allocation or re-allocation of tasks is difficult.
Clearly, this work cycle and related information flow is quite paper and labor-dependent and is riddled with duplicated effort,
human error and process bottlenecks.

Constraints dogging MRO processes


On the other hand, MRO service providers that are at the midway stage of
the process automation maturity cycle, and still operating in a desktop-based
environment, have to contend with the limitations of their process software
which obstruct the achievement of key performance metrics. Insufficient
automation in information management adversely impacts all MRO
processes, as illustrated below:
Maintenance and repair work suffers from unavailability of OEM and
engineering data both prior to and during execution. Also, in the
absence of online information, teams are unable to collaborate in real
time.
Maintenance management activities are constrained by a lack
of integrated data management and consequently fall short of
performance and reliability expectations. Their inherent inflexibility
also leads to inefficiency in change management.
Similarly, material management personnel are left to grapple with
the inefficiencies that creep into inventory and tool management
processes: for instance, lack of timely information on material
availability could lead to improper ordering, which can finally result
in either an overstocked or stock-out situation, both of which drain
revenue.
Work force management is constrained by a lack of dynamic work
allocation and the absence of real-time information exchange. The
dependence on paperwork leads to labor inefficiency and error
incidence.
In the absence of online access to customer data (such as past order
history, current order status, pricing and commercial terms), details of
promotional activities or decision support, the sales force could lose
valuable time and business while trying to close a deal. In the bargain,
their customers may feel less than satisfied.
Since the unavailability of real-time information extends to customer
service as well, client relationships are threatened by slow responses
to emergency calls, inadequate reporting on status to customers, and
the absence of an effective feedback gathering mechanism.

Infosys White Paper | 5

Mobility can make a big difference to


MRO processes
Software applications used for facilitating MRO
processes for line maintenance, heavy maintenance,
engine maintenance and component maintenance can
be mobilized to save both labor and time. In particular,
line and heavy maintenance processes are highly
labor intensive and time critical. Mobility can make a
large number of these processes, such as work order
management, maintenance planning, reliability analysis,
logging of data and inspection and status reporting more
efficient.

Process

Line
Maintenance

Heavy
Maintenance

Engine
Maintenance

Component
Maintenance

Work Order Management

High

High

High

High

Maintenance Planning and Tracking

High

High

High

High

Dynamic Resource and Manpower Allocation

High

Medium

Low

Low

Configuration Management for all Technical and


Regulatory Records/ Documents

High

High

High

High

Reliability Analysis

High

High

High

Low

Access to Online Maintenance Data, Procedures and


Manuals

High

High

High

Medium

Logging Maintenance and Repair Data

High

High

High

Low

Inspection Logs

High

High

High

Low

Electronic Flight Bag/Electronic Technical Log

High

Medium

Low

Low

Status Reporting

High

High

Medium

Low

Logging Attendance and Labor Data

High

High

Low

Low

Material/Part Management

High

High

High

High

Customer Relationship

High

High

High

Medium

Note: High/Medium/low indicate degree of manual effort intensiveness and time criticality of activity completion

6 | Infosys White Paper

As mentioned earlier, mobility-enablement of the above processes can significantly improve productivity, work efficiency
and customer service, and potentially save up to 25 percent of effort and time. By facilitating online information access,
integrated data management and automation, mobility-enablement helps MRO organizations achieve high process efficiency
characterized by:
Automated work order processing, order authorization/tracking, invoicing, maintenance planning, resource allocation
and reliability analysis
Access to online maintenance data and manuals and the ability to log in maintenance, repair and inspection data
Dynamic work allocation, automation of EFB/ETL and status reporting
Real-time management of warehouse operations including procurement, inventory management and shipping
Access to customer data including status updates, warranty details, history and pricing terms.

The impact of the resulting improvement in process efficiency will be felt across the organization in terms of achievement of
Key Performance Indicators such as:
Higher customer satisfaction resulting from, among other things, improved fleet availability
Shorter cycles, which deliver benefits such as cost saving for the service provider and reduced Aircraft on Ground time
for their aviation clients
Lower cost of service as a result of better resource utilization and enhanced productivity
Assured compliance with safety and regulatory standards
Improved morale of a workforce that is motivated to work with technology that improves their working conditions
and personal productivity

Infosys White Paper | 7

Key considerations in mobility adoption


As more and more MRO service providers recognize the benefits of process applications that are mobility-enabled,
independent software vendors will come under pressure to deliver according to revised expectations. At present, the MRO
landscape is dotted with a clutch of software vendors offering select solutions tailored to different processes ranging from
work order management to maintenance planning to status reporting. These vendors strive to serve the needs of clients that
are either large independent networks or OEM suppliers, who will, sooner or later, make a demand for better performing
solutions. As independent software vendors move towards mobility adoption in order to satisfy their clients expectations, the
following considerations would be uppermost in their minds:

Device diversity

Will their mobility-enabled offering be compatible with a range of devices including consumer,
enterprise and industrial handsets? Can it be delivered over different channels of access such as the
mobile phone, tablet PC, PDA and Internet?

Usability

Will the mobile-enabled solution be intelligent enough to recognize the specific context of every
operation, and therefore deliver the optimal user experience in that context?

Cost

What are the costs associated with mobility-enablement of their software applications, and their ongoing maintenance?

Performance

What performance standards will it achieve? How manageable is it, particularly under remote
conditions? Will information be secure?

8 | Infosys White Paper

ISVs must be ready to support MRO firms in their progress towards

process automation maturity


Historically, as MRO firms evolved in terms of process automation, they progressively gained bigger business benefits. The
Paper Based system gave way to Semi Automation, which evolved into the current Desktop Based Environment. As MRO
service providers take the next step towards Partial and subsequently, Full Mobility, their software partners must be ready
with solutions that can meet their expectations.

>>>>>>> Extent of Process Automation

>>>>>>>>>>> Extent of Process Automation

Data capture on paper and


manual entry
Better management but prone
to error in transcription
Functions and workflows
typically disintegrated

Field force adopts mobile for data


capture
Use of SMS alerts for customers as
well as field force linked to workflows
Business unit level adoption of mobile
technology

Partially Mobile

Desktop Based

Semi Automated

Fully Mobile
Enterprise mobility strategy in place
Standardization of mobile technology
across applications
Web and mobile strategy integrated

Direct entry reduces error and enforces


consistency
Improves work flow efficiency
Field staff still use manual data capture

Paper Based
Inaccuracy of Information
Inconsistency in user inputs

Infosys White Paper | 9

Desirable attributes of a mobility solution


Therefore, before arriving at a choice of mobility-platform technology partner, independent software vendors must evaluate
them comprehensively from the following viewpoints:
Device Diversity

The mobility platform must not only be versatile enough to support various device categories and
multiple web browsers running on different development platforms, but also have the flexibility to
extend support to an ever expanding range of devices in future.

Seamless

A mobility solution based on open architecture will enable updates to the MRO process software at
device level and facilitate the integration of other messaging channels.

Optimization

Software vendors must be assured that their choice of mobility solution is optimized for various
considerations including connectivity, user preferences and ambient conditions.

Manageability

A solution that follows XML-based standards improves manageability at both the service provider and
administrator ends.

Security

The mobility solution must provide fail-proof end-to-end data security - at device, OTA and server
level.

Connectivity

The use of a single platform offers the convenience of uninterrupted support on online, offline and
occasionally connected modes.

Cost

Commercial terms must be scrutinized to ensure that the vendor provides maximum value at
a reasonable cost of development and implementation; time-to-market is an equally important
consideration.

Integration

Finally, while the solution must be able to integrate all types of applications ranging from legacy to
service-enabled, it must do so in a completely non-intrusive manner.

Unlocking the opportunity of mobility-enablement


Mobility-enablement presents a compelling business proposition to independent software vendors of aviation Maintenance,
Repair and Overhaul process applications. By offering a solution that enables greater automation of the highly labordependent MRO processes, software vendors can help their clients realize unprecedented cost efficiency, productivity and
customer satisfaction. The downturn in the aviation industry implies an uncertain outlook for the MRO business in the
near term. However one thing is certain - MRO organizations will have to deal with capacity issues and skill shortage once
markets stage a recovery. Forward thinking companies that invest in the automation of their business processes will be better
positioned to meet these challenges.
Vendors of software solutions that are not yet mobility-enabled must act quickly to address this issue. Before they select a
technology partner to help them fulfill this objective, independent software vendors must ensure that the mobility platform
matches their expectations of diversity-compatibility, easy usability, reasonable cost and consistent performance. By doing so,
they stand to reap the gains arising from greater opportunity.

10 | Infosys White Paper

REFERENCES
PricewaterhouseCoopers-CII report on Changing Dynamics - Indian Aerospace Industry
White Paper from Siemens- Knowledge-centric MRO transformation
A report from VZM Management Services -Commercial Aviation & Maintenance Market Outlook 2009
A paper Computers on the Shop Floor By James Careless
A white paper Closing the Information Gap in Maintenance& Repair Operations: The High Impact Benefits Behind
Complete Work Packages By Cheryl Jones-Richter Marketing Strategy Manager, Xerox Global Services June 2004

About the Authors


Puneet Gupta Principal Researcher - SETLabs, Infosys Ltd.
Puneet heads the mobility platforms and solutions initiative at Infosys. He and his team focus on building next
generation middleware that allow organizations to focus on leveraging the mobile channel without being bogged
down with the technology and infrastructural complexities.
Sandeep K. Dewangan Senior Researcher - SETLabs, Infosys Ltd.
Sandeep heads Integrated Research & Innovation Centre for Manufacturing Industry at SETLabs. He & his team
focus on identification & development of innovative solutions for specific industry problems by leveraging emerging
information & communications technologies.
Sunil Gade Research Analyst - SETLabs, Infosys Ltd.
Sunil is a part of Integrated Research & Innovation Centre for Manufacturing Industry at SETLabs. He focuses
on identification & development of innovative solutions for specific industry problems by leveraging emerging
information & communications technologies.

ABBREVIATION: MRO Maintenance Repair and


Overhaul

ISV Independent Software Vendor EFB Electronic Flight Bag

ETL Electronic Technical Log

OEM Original Equipment


Manufacturer

SETLabs Software Engineering


and Technology Labs

OTA Over-The-Air