The IoT (Internet of Things) is helping manufacturers work smarter, rather than harder. By leveraging digital technologies throughout the value chain and replacing manual processes with automated ones, manufacturers can improve the quality and quantity of their work. Another key way the IoT is impacting manufacturing is by improving MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) operations.
Tego, https://tegoinc.com, an intelligent asset platform provider, says airframe manufacturers like Airbus, www.airbus.com, and Boeing, www.boeing.com, needed to find a way to streamline aircraft assembly and inspection processes for their airline customers, as well as improve MRO operations after the planes were put into service. “Through conversations with these stakeholders, Tego discovered that during maintenance activities, the bulk of the time and effort was spent trying to properly identify parts or to retrieve, collect, and update paperwork associated with the part,” explains Timothy Butler, CEO of Tego. “Ironically, very little of the prescribed ‘maintenance activity’ was spent actually repairing or servicing the aircraft or its parts.”
Butler says the painpoint was clear—safety and maintenance information was not easily accessible when it was needed most. Thankfully, this is where the IoT shines. Tego offers aerospace customers like Airbus and Boeing its AIP (Asset Intelligence Platform), which transforms critical, detailed information about an asset’s manufacturing information, pedigree, lifecycle maintenance history, and chain of custody into digital data that lives on the asset itself.
Because this data lives on the asset, this critical information travels with the asset and is readable and updatable at each point of interaction. “In other words, assets tell their full and accurate story to any authorized user who interacts with it, and that user can add his or her chapter to the story,” Butler explains.
Tego’s solution is helping Airbus accomplish its long-term vision of having smart assets as the standard for all routable/traceable items, which, by 2019, could reach 5.5 million across the fleet. The ROI (return on investment) associated with implementing an intelligent asset solution like Tego’s AIP can be game changing. For Airbus, Butler says ROI includes benefits like improved line maintenance routines, which can help airlines achieve faster turnaround times of planes at departure gates.
Streamlined inspections, which can lead to improved safety of aircraft and flyable parts, are another benefit. “On the assembly line floor, Airbus uses digital information from suppliers to perform final inspections of installed flyable parts,” Butler adds. “The inspections verify all items are in place, are of the correct type, and that none of the supplied parts are nearly expired—a critical problem to address.” Butler also says the inspection of seats and life vests in final assembly used to take Airbus 14 hours, but now it takes just 26 minutes.
In the future, Butler envisions the IoT continuing to revolutionize the aviation and aerospace industries. He says: “Aerospace provides a very real model for how distributed asset intelligence can add quick and efficient value. It is only up to leaders to grab hold of it.”
Challenge: Improve maintenance, repair, and overhaul operations in aerospace by making assets smart.
Risk: Aerospace is a high-risk industry, and maintenance must be done right every time.
Solution: Tego’s AIP transforms information about an asset’s manufacturing, pedigree, lifecycle maintenance history, and chain of custody into digital data that lives on the asset itself.
Payoff: Improved line maintenance routines, streamlined inspections, and better safety.