Forecasting is one of the most critical aspects of aircraft maintenance. In fact, it could be considered the main challenge for the repair and overhaul industry, especially when it comes to heavy maintenance, which could put aircraft out of service for a while. Thus, the ability to anticipate demand for maintenance parts as accurately as possible is significant. On one hand, delays due to insufficient stock will extend turnaround time and downtime; on the other hand, keeping too many expensive parts on hand is excessive and impractical. Maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) companies have an especially tough time with inventory management. Demand for materials is inconsistent, and the use of parts is erratic, at best. Here are two usual scenarios in forecasting and their limitations: Using historical data. While this is a common method in demand forecasting, this is usually inaccurate because of the inconsistency in the movement of materials. Using subjective/qualitative data. This method can also be prone to error because your forecasts will hinge on the opinion of workers who, while experts, are only human. One possible reason for inaccuracy is outdated processes. A lot of airlines and MROs still rely heavily on paper for managing logs, reports, and other crucial tasks. This not only causes delays but also opens up the possibility for mistakes in planning. In the case of inventory management, this could lead to an inaccurate assessment of consumption and availability of spare parts. How, then, can the efficiency of your entire maintenance operations and forecasting be improved? Your best bet is to turn to the one thing that has done nothing but improving over the years: technology. How you harness data and what you do with it afterward directly impact the accuracy of your forecasts. To properly harness data and make use of it, an MRO must phase out expensive legacy systems and implement new software with demand forecasting capabilities. Advanced analytics can then be used to detect trends within data, help optimize inventory, and significantly improve the accuracy of the forecasts. The best part is that analytics and automation software helps with many other aspects of the work, too. Here are some examples of the insights that can be gained with the help of advanced MRO software: Real-Time Data and Maintenance Flow Live Aircraft Status Check Milestones Planned vs Actual Labor Trends Critical Factors Viewable by Customer Real-Time Task Progress Factual Data In most cases, valuable data can be found everywhere within a company. It’s just a matter of harnessing, organizing, and then analyzing that data to make actionable assessments. An integrated solution that leverages automation and analytics can help aircraft operators, as well as the military and defense sectors, provide data-driven decision making and a comprehensive view into operational availability across their fleet. Using advanced software provides many features and benefits: Detailed production control features, with the ability to control execution schedule, manpower, and material resource allocation Integrated digital solutions that streamline workflow, eliminate paper mess, track progress and time, and bring all the work right to the aircraft Monitoring of plan vs. performance through comprehensive dashboards and status reports that cover all aspects of the heavy maintenance environment Electronic signatures and verifications of technician qualifications to ensure your maintenance program stays regulatorily compliant Forecasting, planning, and maintenance are especially tough in the aviation industry, where delays can mean grounded aircraft and essentially drain money from a company. However, when you harness data and use specialized software for analytics, you can simplify and streamline the complexities of aircraft-maintenance processes and keep your fleet in the air. Most importantly, you can keep air passengers safe.