New software from Oracle Corp. automates the paper-intensive process of maintaining fleets of commercial and military aircraft or other types of vehicles.
The Oracle Complex Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) suite, which the Redwood Shores, Calif., company unveiled on Tuesday, is designed to improve the efficiency of groups responsible for these vehicles. It does this by keeping track of complicated configurations, streamlining the scheduling of routine and unplanned maintenance and presenting enterprise-wide visibility into MRO operations, Oracle officials said.
Unlike most other MRO software, Oracles new software, available now, is not intended to be used by manufacturers to automate maintenance of their machines, said Rick Jewell, Oracles vice president of manufacturing and supply chain execution.
“This industry is very different,” Jewell said. “Configuring a tail number of a given 727 is more difficult than for a molding machine in a manufacturing setting. Also…the [airplane] is mobile and can be anywhere.”
Oracle Complex MRO is intended to be used by makers of airplanes or other OEMs, who create master configuration lists and maintenance recommendations for their products; third-party maintenance companies, who in many cases perform repairs; and fleet owners/operators, who sometimes do their own maintenance and who are ultimately responsible for keeping their aircraft in good working order.
The software, which is a component of the Oracle Supply Chain Management suite, enables fleet operators to keep track of the complex configurations of individual aircraft, which include thousands of parts, and to classify fleets into smaller groups. It also provides the capability not just for short-term maintenance scheduling but also long-term fleet planning, as well as spare parts management. Users can create work orders using reusable templates, update maintenance histories and configurations, and monitor individual aircraft.
Because the data is maintained in a central repository, fleet operators can act more quickly in passing on information to regulatory bodies, like the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), said Hannes Sandmeier, Oracle senior director, Complex MRO.
“Thats something that a lot of these companies struggle with because they have multiple different systems in multiple locations,” Sandmeier said. Some large commercial aircraft operators have as many as 30 or 40 different applications for scheduling and tracking aircraft maintenance.
“If the FAA issues a directive, you can immediately find all the parts [cited in the directive and installed on your aircraft] and tell them when you will comply,” Sandmeier said.
Although the airline industry is struggling, Jewell said that all companies, including airlines, are looking for ways to cut costs.
“In the United [Airlines] bankruptcy, the judge said they need to clean up their maintenance software,” Jewell said.
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