Digital MRO: Why You Can’t Count on Historical Data Alone

In the past years, Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul operations have moved steadily towards digital platforms. And projections show that the trend is only going to continue. Soon, digital MRO will be the standard, instead of just an innovation made possible by new technology. Among its advantages are the ability to anticipate the demand for parts and the need for crucial maintenance procedures. However, it is important to point out that forecasting using historical data is not enough to optimize your MRO data analytics.

Historical data can be generally defined as any piece of information gathered from previous projects or events within an industry. In the case of MRO, these include data on repair frequency, parts requirement, and turnaround times. These are the statistics which, when put in proper context, tell you exactly what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been doing it. In theory, putting all these together should be able to give you a clear picture of the “whats and whens” that you should take note of. Reality, however, is very different.

Data Plagued With Uncertainty

The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic is one good example of the cons of relying on historical data. In a span of months, the global outbreak grounded entire fleets of aircraft, and travel went from “full speed” to barely a trickle. In January 2020, before the pandemic’s peak, nearly 28,000 planes were in service across six continents globally. That figure dropped drastically in the following months, with over 18,000 aircraft sent into storage at one point during the year.

This single event wreaked havoc in the daily operations of many companies and completely invalidated their previous MRO projections. Simply put, historical data does not hold water in the middle of a pandemic. 

Let’s break it down:

History hasn’t seen everything. 

The last major pandemic was in 1918. During that time, the airplane was still a relatively new invention, and aviation was a far cry from what it would turn out to be today. In fact, the first commercial flight only took off a few years prior. This means that MROs today do not have any previous references to use as a guide to handle the current pandemic. This is the first time since the aviation industry boomed that operations took a sharp nosedive, and the historical data available do not give an accurate representation of the current demands. 

There’s a “new normal” in MRO, too.

The MRO industry is at an unprecedented stage of transition. With aircraft usage at a new low, the level of uncertainty is at a high. And since fleet usage is far differentーloads, schedules, paths have likely changedーexisting data and projections about maintenance needs are not as reliable. On the other hand, companies could forego preventive maintenance and choose event-based maintenance. However, there will be no telling whether your next project will be a quick fix or one that would see your fleet grounded for longer than necessary.

There’s more data to consider.  

Modern day analytics software packages are powerful, and they’re only getting better. These programs could actually take in more kinds of data than before, giving you a significantly clearer picture of your MRO operations. Pieces of information like task progress, labor trends, as well as real-time aircraft status and maintenance flow could help you make better decisions, among other benefits. There’s no reason to limit your analytics to just one type of data when the industry is a goldmine of data in itself.

There’s no denying that historical data has its uses and that it has led to many successful forecasts in the past. However, you cannot count on this alone, especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced turbulence within the industry. No doubt, the MRO field is set for more developments and transformations, but the good news is, there’s technology available to keep up.  

Visit www.empowermx.com to learn more about how you can optimize your MRO operations.