A&D organizations are in a league of their own. Why? Because there are few sectors more asset-intensive, security-focused and politically complex than aerospace & defense.
Here, Graham Grose, Vice President and Industry Director, Aerospace & Defense, IFS, pulls out the key findings of recent IDC customer research to highlight why this market is so different, as well as identifying the key requirements for A&D software implementation success.
For a military fighting force or defense in-service support provider, software can be the difference between mission success and failure.
For commercial aviation operators and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) organizations, failure to optimize aircraft turnarounds and fleet availability can cost millions of dollars in an industry where profit margin is extremely tight.
Couple this operational pressure with the longevity, implementation timeline and investment associated when selecting enterprise software and it’s easy to see why it is one of the most important strategic decisions an A&D organization can make.
Making the wrong choice can mean costly customizations at best, but complete project failure at worst.
But when done right there are clear benefits to be unlocked.
IFS is indeed a field leader, recognized by the ARC Advisory Group as the top provider of Enterprise Asset Management software to A&D organizations, and already works with some of the industry’s leading OEMs, MROs and airline operators including Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce and China Airlines.
But it decided to take a deeper dive into its customer base to understand the specific problems A&D customers face.
The results are interesting, and here I outline three key areas and focus points they found.
The complexity of the A&D landscape requires a level of granularity fitted to each customer
A&D is a highly asset-intensive industry, with a network of decision-makers that must agree on a new software initiative. Business systems, processes and technologies must all support huge organizations that are running particularly complex operations, with thousands of capital assets and staff working across geographically distributed sites that require constant access to real-time operational data.
In a military deployment this means tracking assets and personnel in extremely isolated and hostile environments, while in commercial aviation this means managing complex day-of-operations planning for hundreds of planes and maintenance personnel across entire continents.
This is what separates IFS from its competitors according to the recent IDC study.
As one customer summarized after deciding to deploy IFS Maintenix software: “We chose IFS Maintenix because it was the only product able to handle the complexity and size of our operations.
“We simply thought that IFS was a better solution for program maintenance than the other solution we considered.”
More work orders mean hours saved in the maintenance bay
One A&D customer identified in the IDC research singled out the functionality to correctly assess the value of its aircraft over time as a key factor in helping meet its financial reporting obligations.
This meant more effective and timely maintenance activities which translated into millions of dollars per year in materials cost savings.
Another A&D organization highlighted in the research had taken a deeper dive into the metrics.
IDC researchers found that following deployment, the company was able to complete up to 20% more work orders per day and save up to 60 hours per week during maintenance and operations.
This had prevented the cost of millions of dollars per year in materials expenses.
The completion of more work orders per day shows how the productivity of the maintenance employees responsible for ensuring the continuity of operations is directly impacted by enterprise software.
The accumulation of hours saved is based on all employees across the organization drawing information from a common platform during all maintenance operations.
Easy access to data – understanding use patterns means better use of aircraft
Another benefit described by a commercial airline was having a more comprehensive understanding of use patterns for its aircraft fleet.
This enabled the organization to not only make greater use of each aircraft but also increase the revenue generated per aircraft.
The customer explained: “With IFS, we can use aircraft in a better way by better monitoring maintenance. As a result, we can fly our aircraft another half or full day per year… The investment in IFS is justified because when we ask a question about an aircraft, we immediately have an answer in real-time. It’s night and day from before.”
The same organization also noted that its engineering team benefited from greater access to key maintenance information in its IFS system while other A&D customers echoed these themes.
Interestingly, another company has just taken the decision to go even further with information sharing than simply increasing access internally.
Leading aerospace OEM Rolls-Royce recently chose IFS Maintenix for exchanging data with airlines operating its Trent engines.
The partnership will provide Rolls-Royce with new engine insights, optimized maintenance scheduling, service and product development and help them better understand the needs of its airline customers.
The right data in the right hands at the right time
It is essential that A&D customers maintain their mission-critical assets in a way that ensures long-term utilization and enables the smooth-running of day-to-day operations.
Due to the nature of the work carried out in maintenance depots, hangars and repair shops, this necessitates the constant flow of accurate and timely information.
But enterprise software must not be overly complex itself—usability is king.
For example, the view of military asset availability required by a military commander is vastly different to the interfaces and functionalities required by frontline maintenance personnel.
As is the view of maintenance tasks accessed by commercial airline pilots vs. maintenance technicians on the day of operations.
The key to usability is getting the right information delivered to relevant personnel at the correct time.
Only then will enterprise software provide measurable advantages from both an operational and business standpoint.
The benefits are plain to see.
 *IDC White Paper, sponsored by IFS, The Business Value of IFS Enterprise Application Solutions with Industry-Specific Use Cases, August 2019.