From F-18 Hornets to Boeing, Real-Time Scheduling Keeps The World Flying High
From the time the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane to the modern era of high-performance commercial and fighter aircraft, the costs of building and maintaining airplanes has increased in complexity every year.
Before you say “duh”, let me explain the business significance of this.
For airlines of all types and sizes, the challenges of improving operating performance while also maintaining or even improving profitability are becoming more tricky.
It’s clear that U.S. carrier profitability may drop in the near term as increasing energy prices and higher labor costs offset higher revenues driven by demand for air travel. Compound that with the complex tug and pull of such issues as on-time performance, maintenance crew productivity, and aircraft utilization — in the face of variables such as weather, mechanics, and air traffic control — and you’ve got a complicated business dynamic that would bedevil even the most sophisticated company.
Long-running labor issues add yet another complication, particularly for legacy carriers. And all the while, airline customers demand a better experience without disruptions, a friendly crew (or at least not a violent crew), and, of course, safety—all at a low price.
So, where is the one area that gives one airline a leg up on another? Answer: The ability to efficiently streamline manufacturing and maintenance of their airplanes.
That’s why more companies in industries, such as airlines, aerospace, military and high tech, are turning to real-time scheduling to streamline manufacturing and maintenance strategies.
The ability for airlines to be more efficient with repairs and maintenance results in a huge competitive difference between them and a competing airline and has long-term consequences.
For example, a few years ago the US Navy began to overuse the multi-mission strike-fighter F-18. The increased global demand for aircraft carriers turned into excessive flight hours for the F/A-18. Soon afterwards, 50% of the fighter jets became grounded for maintenance issues.
In a last-ditch effort to leverage existing resource capacity to meet project demands, the Navy turned to a modern real-time scheduling software. The Navy realized a monthly planning and review process was not sufficient to handle the constant changes that define aircraft maintenance repair and operations (MRO).
The Navy’s actual maintenance plan was constantly in flux, including the number and hours needed of specialized mechanics workload on back shops, engineers and procurement. “Changing all these schedules and keeping them synchronized within and across aircraft is humanly impossible,” said Realization CEO Sanjeev Gupta.
Not only did real-time scheduling ensure that resources were shifted to the right tasks at the right time, it also changed management focus from backward looking reports to forward-looking delay or bottleneck alerts. Even the supply chain benefited because vendors were now working to synchronized schedules and real need-dates.
Resource utilization analysis showed that by solving the scheduling problem, depot production could be increased by 25% or more and aircraft turnaround times reduced by 50% or more.
From the military to the airlines to the airline suppliers and manufacturers, real-time scheduling software keeps the world’s airlines flying high.