We recently hosted a webinar chronicling Patria / Belgium Engine Company’s (PBEC) journey to upgrade both their ERP and MRO operations to remove manual, paper-based processes. Their journey was a long and challenging one that could be viewed as climbing a glacier! During this broadcast on their digital MRO transformation, Sophie Nissenbaum, Improvement Project Manager at PBEC, explained her company’s amazing story and the resulting benefits achieved so far.
Since airing this presentation, we received many questions on what was involved and how challenges were overcome, so we thought it would be helpful to share these insights for others that are either starting or in the middle of their digital MRO transformation.
Question #1: Do you now have better visibility to ETC (Estimated Time of Completion) of the overall assembly via the system?
Yes. Our solution contains several dashboards to supervise and follow activities. The Dispatch of Work Orders by Sales Order is one such report, which is now actively used. This report provides improved visibility; another related report is the Scheduled and Revised Start/End Dates for Work Orders report, which also helps with better planning and scheduling of when repairs will be completed.
Question #2: Can you describe how you track WIP now versus before?
PBEC now has layouts in its iBASEt solution that have been used “as is,” as well as data that can now be readily extracted or combined with other reports. PBEC now has visibility on the location of parts, who is working on them, what next steps should be taken.
Question #3: You mentioned that the data migration process was difficult – why, and what was involved?
This project’s data migration was hard because data was extracted from PBEC’s G5 Oracle database to iBASEt’s G8 Solumina SQL Server database, which included special characters with French accents. At the time, this created a problem, so a fix was needed. In addition, the data had to be migrated with up to 15 different business rules to be considered, creating further complexity. Some examples included:
- Export jurisdiction management
- Process specs to move from a configured Tab in Solumina (G5) to an Out-of-the-box File in G8 with naming convention management to insert or not in the process plan revision during migration
- How to modify the work centers of the process plan operations, and then update some operations (an optional flag was created)
- The process to re-organize the sequence of operations during the migration
- What part-naming convention was used in G5 to define the destination plan type
- How to best manage the obsolete task groups from the G5 process plan revisions
Question #4: How and who did your training for the new MRO solution?
We organized our training for employees to effectively use all of the new features, using our own PBEC staff.
Question #5: How many and what type of users did you have in your plant? How did you manage data continuity with these users?
We had about 90 employees at that time, which included 65 who were using Solumina. There were approximately 50 operators/inspectors, 4 supervisors, 2 Quality managers, 7 engineers, and a few others with more general titles in management roles. With regard to data continuity during our digital MRO transformation, we transferred all the WIP, stock, and user data into the new system.
Question #6: How did you measure the business impact and value of this project?
There were several KPIs we were tracking, but one of the top ones was to reduce our TAT (turn-around-time), reduce manual entries, reduce human errors, improve access to data, and how to be more self-sufficient by having an in-house team that knows all of our processes. Each of these objectives was addressed and achieved with our iBASEt solution.
Question #7: What logic did you use to determine component disposition? Can your iBASEt MRO solution recommend a disposition based on history, by Part or Serial Number?
We did leverage disposition logic, but not based on historical data like PN or SN. Instead, the disposition choice was done by the MRO Operator based on their inspection and experience. When a part is removed, the MRO Operator must select the Component Disposition (e.g. Scrap, Serviceable, Repair Order, …) and additional info (e.g. Return to Stock, Send to Kitting, External Repair, …). This choice is made manually, Component by Component (or by Lots of Lot Controlled Components). For PBEC, specific Business Rules were implemented as per PBEC’s pre-defined process, which is then known by the system at each step. This directed approach only presents the appropriate next steps for Disposition. For example, if a Module is to be sent back to a Customer A, then when the MRO Operator scraps a Component, the disposition choice is limited to just “Return to Vendor.” This process might be different for Customer B. The logic behind these options is managed by the PBEC administrator who maintains the business rules in the admin tables of Solumina.
Also, when an MRO Operator requests a Repair Order from Solumina (integrated with their SAP ERP), the system notifies the user when a Repair Order of the same activity has already been created for this Component. This logic has been implemented to avoid the potential for human errors arising from multiple Order requests.
Gordon Benzie has 20+ years of leadership experience in marketing and communication roles. This knowledge was gained while working at software solution providers focused on driving digital transformation across industrial operations. As an avid technologist, Gordon has a deep understanding of how today’s technologies are improving manufacturing processes within discrete, hybrid, and process industries. Follow Gordon on LinkedIn.