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Joined up thinking

Enterprise resource planning is key in the domain of aircraft maintenance, as Mario Pierobon finds
The role of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) is to model the business process and to record, store, manage and interpret business data. As such, complexity is probably reaching an apogee for aircraft maintenance where asset structures are always complex and governed by a large variety of life cycle management rules and stakeholders.
Moreover, operations are 24/7 and require a very high service level. The situation is further emphasised by the amount of aircraft maintenance regulations, which very often lead to audits carried out by aviation authorities or customers.
The role of ERP
“ERP modules used in a company are integrated by definition, hence providing a healthy consistency of data across the complete organisation. As such, ERPs are covering a wide numbers of processes, including maintenance operations, finance, use of business resource including human resources, sales, purchasing, engineering, bill of materials and supply chain,” says Rodolphe Parisot, Vice President of Digital & Innovation at Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M).
“On the one hand, ERP is an aircraft maintenance organisation’s system of records. On the other hand, it is also a key enabler for an MRO to become a ‘data-driven’ organisation. In today’s world where data importance is growing exponentially, relying on accurate, meaningful and consistent data becomes a key differentiator.” 
AFI KLM E&M uses several systems, including SAP and Maintenix, the latter being produced by IFS. According to James Elliott, Director of the MRO Product Line at IFS, driving aircraft safety, regulatory compliance, reliability and availability within a manageable budget depends heavily on aviation maintenance ERP business platforms.
“While the tech industry continues to fawn over big data, the internet of things (IoT) and the imminent artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, it is important to recognise the vital role ERP software plays in leveraging all this technology and using it to keep decision-makers informed,” he says.
“Uniting an organisation end-to-end with enterprise-wide control, visibility and data collection has the potential to improve both business performance and aviation passenger safety. This is true for most in the aircraft maintenance industry, whether your organisation is an airline, OEM or independent MRO.”
Swiss AviationSoftware’s (Swiss-AS) AMOS is an ERP solution that allows users to manage their maintenance, engineering and logistics needs and to assure their compliance with the complex system of aviation regulations. “By this, MRO software plays a central role with regard to safety, compliance and cost management.
Maintenance is a significant cost factor for airlines (and MRO organisations of course, too), and, due to the tight margins and competition, aviation companies are forced to organise all business areas as cost-effectively as possible – including resources in terms of manpower and material,” says Claudia Weiss-Giessler, Vice President, Marketing at Swiss-AS.
“AMOS provides the customers with industry-leading processes, allowing customers to benefit from efficient maintenance slot and resource planning, optimised stock-levels and so on.
Due to the full integration of AMOS as an end-to-end solution, departmental boundaries can easily be overcome and the communication and data exchange between the different maintenance areas can be optimised (for example, engineering, planning, shop floor and so on).”
The importance of integration
In aviation maintenance management, there is such a significant dependence on ensuring the right part is available at the right time – keeping the aircraft running smoothly and on time is vital for airlines to deliver the desired level of customer experience. In this context, the integration of different maintenance management functions is always sought by an ERP. 
“When functional landscape is not covered by a single integrated ERP, companies have to put in place strong master data management to reach high benefits associated with big data and machine learning,” says Parisot.
“Whether we are talking commercial air travel or a military organisation relying on the critical capability of their platform, it is all but mandatory that inventory management is integrated with the resource planning and maintenance execution solution,” says Elliott.“The most powerful resource planning and maintenance solutions have to offer highly configurable offerings that include the ability to integrate with an inumbent inventory management system that may be part of an aviation organisation’s long-term IT strategy.”
Inventory management is an essential part of AMOS. It is fully integrated, and an interface to a third party software is not necessary. “We regard this integration of inventory management as an important asset of AMOS being an end-to-end solution since from maintenance planning over production to the reporting back of maintenance events the availability/usage/tracking of your material is an essential part of the overall maintenance process.
Working with a third party application to manage your inventory ends up in the creation of multiple interfaces to connect your MRO solution with such an external inventory management system,” says Weiss-Giessler. >>

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