Digitization and automation of processes associated with maintenance operations – an imperative need
In many companies, the maintenance departments are required to work miracles, with a fraction of the budget and a lot of improvisation. Sometimes seen as an “inevitable evil”, maintenance, repair and overhaul operations are a critical component of business processes in industries such as mining, aeronautics, energy, manufacturing, utilities and transportation.
The field of MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul – a term established in the specialized literature) has a number of specific challenges represented mainly by the chronic shortage of qualified personnel to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. According to Peerless Research Group, almost three quarters of companies (71%) estimate that the level of training of MRO teams falls somewhere between “Not at all prepared” and “Somewhat prepared”. (1)
Another important challenge is that the technical documentation and procedures specific to this type of operation are not always followed. According to an analysis by the Aviation Safety Reporting System (NASA ASRS), about three-quarters (64%) of safety-related incidents are due to this cause. Failure to comply with the overhaul documentation is also the main source of malfunctions that occur after performing a maintenance operation, according to the USA Federal Aviation Administration. (2)
Factors affecting the efficiency of maintenance and repair operations
The main factors that lead to these side effects are:
- The shortage of qualified personnel that affects most areas of activity;
- Diversity and complexity of equipment for which maintenance, repair and overhaul operations must be performed and which require access to specific technical information;
- Coexistence of technical documentation formats – physical and digital – and their volume. (In the case of complex equipment, only the user manuals exceed 100 pages);
- Dispertion of technical information in several data silos and applications, which do not communicate with each other and can not be accessed and managed centrally;
- Difficulties in accessing the correct version of the technical documentation as well as tracking the documented maintenance history of an equipment – from reporting a problem to fixing it and validating the operation;
- The large number of tasks that have to be done manually, often on paper forms, and that are time consuming (creating specific documents, completing and signing them, sending them to other departments, etc.).
The situations listed above compromise the efficiency of maintenance, repair and overhaul operations, decrease the efficiency of intervention teams and contribute to increased operational and non-operational costs.
How Star Storage solutions solve these challenges
The SEAL platform, together with the industry-specific solutions developed based on it, eliminates the above situations and helps companies to digitize and automate maintenance processes dependent on technical documentation, to record and archive electronically according to industry regulations documents and records (including photo or video recordings) resulting from these operations and to manage them throughout their life cycle.
The main benefits of adopting and implementing the Star Storage solution are:
- All documents required for maintenance, overhaul and repair operations related to certain equipment or an entire production facility, can be consolidated, managed and accessed quickly and safely. Thus, MRO teams can easily and quickly consult, from any type of mobile equipment, from anywhere and anytime, the updated version of the technical documentation associated with the equipment on which they must intervene. The use of the SEAL platform by end users does not require advanced IT skills, and the operations of adding and updating documents can be done naturally, without involving resources from the IT department.
- Field service teams can have remote access not only to existing documentation, but also to multi-media (audio-video) instructions that can be provided in real time. Through SEAL, field teams can benefit from assistance (audio and video) delivered remotely by experts from the company’s headquarters or from a center of excellence, thus compensating organizations for their low level of skills and experience. (The expert from the headquarter presents to the field agent the necessary documentation and guides him – with annotations, comments, etc., having permanent real-time access to the operation performed through the video camera carried by the field team).
- Digitization and standardization of specific documents and forms – support requests, defect analysis, work order, maintenance sheets, finding notes, delivery or scrapping documents, etc. – thus simplifying the processes of issuance, completion, confirmation and reception, by eliminating manual tasks and allowing a complete traceability of the digitized process.
- Automatic updating and documentation of the intervention history – the based on SEAL saves and archives all documents related to an intervention and allows the collection of field audio and video samples – recordings and photos – which are stored as compliant records, protected by various methods (encryption, WORM – Write Once Read Many – etc.).
- The documents required to carry out maintenance, repair and overhaul operations can be integrated into specific workflows, which dynamically adapt to existing conditions. For example, a work order can be automatically assigned taking into account the level of proximity of the MRO teams to the equipment to be intervened, the degree of load of the available teams, the necessary skills, the level of criticality of the reported problem, etc.
- Compliance with regulatory requirements, industry-specific standards and regulations in force. SEAL allows the use of a complex metadata system to record specific information – equipment or location code, spare part code, commissioning test data, calibration data, etc. – associated with each asset and archive in accordance with the law and regulations.
Companies that use the SEAL platform to digitize maintenance activities achieve high operational efficiencies and make better use of available resources. In addition, maintenance, repair and overhaul teams can focus their efforts on technical interventions, without wasting time with documentation work and filling out specific forms.
If you want to see a live demonstration of a solution for digitizing maintenance and repair operations and find out how you can get all these benefits, contact us! The Star Storage team can help you identify, implement, and customize the solution that fits your business needs and budget.
Articol MMH – Annual Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) Survey 2018: Spending on the rise
AeroSoftsys – Technical Documentation Challenges in Aviation Maintenance