Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul • April 11, 2018

Advancing MRO Provider Services with Digital Thread

Shawn Maguire Shawn Maguire

Digitizing the MRO operation means the streamlined sharing of information. With paper-based or file-based systems, for example, 3D model designs that exist in MRO are rarely shared between OEMs and asset owners efficiently. Detailed drawings and as-maintained records are often passed on as static PDF documents, providing little to no searchable, actionable digitized information to asset owner systems. In these cases, while maintenance requirements are documented within maintenance manuals, they then must be parsed manually by the asset owner.

Why Go Digital?

OEMs and asset owners need a better way to work in the context of MRO. When the digital records of both parties exist, but remain separate, a disconnect is created, inhibiting collaboration within the MRO process. Failing to digitize brings negative effects for MRO.

In manual systems:

  • The verbal feedback loop stalls the design process
  • All parties to develop their own maintenance manuals
  • Quality suffers
  • Standards become difficult to enforce
  • The need for constant manual operations slow down operations

Upgrading MRO Provider Services with the Digital Thread

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association estimates that the worldwide market for commercial aviation maintenance will approach $100 billion during the next decade. As a result, many MRO providers are realizing that they must modernize their existing practices if they are to compete. The key element to this is conversion to the digital thread.

Extensive Integration. Operations using the digital thread have the capability to integrate all model data, product structure data, metadata, effectual data, process definition data, supporting equipment, and tools. The digital thread establishes a communication framework throughout the entire MRO lifecycle, spanning design, engineering, production, and maintenance. This enables the organization, including both the partners and asset owners, to collaborate around a single, contiguous reference point for all MRO related tasks. Instead of navigating through PDFs, office memos, and printed manuals, a digital thread allows data to instantly flow through a single digital format from one end of the supply chain to the other.

3D Models Improved. In addition to eliminating the files and paperwork, utilizing a digital thread helps to raise the value of 3D modeling. Both the OEM and asset owners can operate on the same page when 3D models are shared. By delivering an asset’s as-maintained data in a parsable data format to the asset owner, the MRO provider can directly integrate data into their own system.

Streamlining MRO Assets. Another positive result of the use of digital thread is the ability to create a digital model of assets. Design specifications, engineering models, as-builts, and operational data are brought together, developing a digital twin. Engineering changes during production or deviations from the original design will be viewable digitally, taking 3D modeling to a whole new level.  Feedback on product quality and requests for redesign can happen more rapidly. After the initial upgrade of the MRO provider system, product and service designs can be streamlined, increasing product quality significantly, increasing profitability, and building stronger favorable relationships between suppliers and asset owners.

Simplifying Maintenance Communications. Another area of MRO operations that benefits from digitization is within maintenance operations. Master manuals can be developed and shared. By providing the asset owner with a fully digitized manual, the task of document revision is simplified. Parsing into downstream systems becomes more more straightforward.

With a digital thread in place, all maintenance requirements can be managed online. Changes and updates become instant and cross-referencing maintenance manuals becomes seem-less. Maintenance task instructions can leverage links to maintenance manuals and 3D models for illustration. The digital thread provides unity, quick communication, compliance verification, and collaboration certainty. With an emphasis on digitized records, 3D models, and digital twins, the digital thread will optimize inspections, improve spare parts management, and increase accuracy, blasting MRO providers forward in repair operations and execution.

Contact iBase-t today, to find out how Solumina can help you establish the Digital Thread in your business, or download the informative whitepaper below.

MRO Whitepaper

Featured Resources

Featured Resource

Research Reports
Model-Based Enterprise Strategy

Based on a survey of 250 discrete manufacturers, this research study, conducted by Tech-Clarity, establishes a "state of the market" for MBE adoption.