Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operations present one of the most substantial challenges for planners and schedulers. This is because the scope of work is always an unknown and varies as part of a discovery process when equipment is opened up. Code based IT planning and scheduling systems work poorly or not at all in this environment because they are too rigid and inflexible to cope with the levels of change and complexity encountered. Over the years, large amounts of time and money have been invested in systems that eventually turn out to be effectively useless. In frustration, planners have frequently returned to manual planning techniques in such situations, re-introducing all the time lost in planning, inaccuracy and bottom line cost to their operations.
The fundamental problem with this approach is that every MRO plant is different and it is practically impossible for the software designers to predict every process variation and difference in work style in the world. This means that the “best fit” is never a true fit and the gaps compromise the system performance. The user will see this as slow system operation, inaccurate plans and, at worst, areas in planning that have to be done outside the system.
Also, as time moves on and processes change, operators usually find it too time consuming, disruptive and expensive to adapt the software to reflect the changes. So the gaps between actual reality and system reality get bigger and bigger to the point when the system becomes effectively unusable. Thus the users usually decide to go through the disruption and cost of replacing the system with another. And so the cycle repeats.
We recognised this fundamental problem early in ICRON and decided that the solution was to design the process modelling and algorithm writing as a free format option. The challenge was that doing this in computer code would take too long and cost too much. The solution was to develop a super-fast graphical modelling tool which has become ICRON’s Graphical Scheduling Modelling Algorithm System (GSAMS). By combining a huge library of standard planning algorithms we have developed over the years with the ability to edit and create new algorithms, we can develop tailored customer packages in incredibly short times where the system reality and process realities are perfectly matched. This provides users with a platform that takes care of 100% of the planning requirements all the time, provides users with complete confidence in the knowledge that their plans are realistic and achievable and, gives a very fast operating speed. And, if the processes change, it is very quick, cheap and easy to update the system to reflect the changes. This is why, as far as we know, every ICRON system ever installed is still in full use today. For details see ‘Why ICRON’.
ICRON in MRO
For MRO operators in aerospace who have a good understanding of the issues and consequences, ICRON has become the proven platform of choice. Only ICRON can truly and comprehensively handle the levels of complexity involved in MRO with ease and good operating speeds.
ICRON in MRO plants
For MRO plants we offer a pc based platform, web linked to all relevant data sources and work areas in the plant and potentially linked to other ICRON systems in outsourcing plant location. This gives planners and management full real-time visibility over all operations covering both detailed planning & scheduling in General Repair sections as well as for Module Induction planning & scheduling. The resulting plans and schedules will co-ordinate plant operations at a macro and micro level according to the business priorities and drivers set by management. Such a system can be developed, installed and fully operational in about 2-4 months.
Benefits for MRO plants
Some of the direct benefits that can be achieved by using ICRON in MRO operations are:
- Improved real-time visibility over all plant operations;
- Improved dynamic visibility over plant capacity and thus ability to take on work;
- Improved ability by using scenarios, to determine work done in-house or outsourced;
- Increased production capacity by production smoothing and de-bottlenecking of operations;
- Resulting improvements in productivity and reduced dependency on overtime, reducing unit production costs;
- Improved quality resulting from reduced overtime working and a more balanced workload;
- Ability, by scenario analysis, to determine best work options, e.g. “rush part”, “cannibalise part” etc.;
- Improved visibility over work completion dates and thus more reliable delivery forecasting resulting in improved customer relationship.
Benefits for Planners in MRO
Some of the direct benefits for Planners, that can be achieved by using ICRON in MRO operations are:
ICRON generates accurate and thorough plans and schedules in a matter of seconds, so re-scheduling plant operations when circumstances change, e.g. equipment failure, new priorities etc, is quick and easy; planners and mangers remain on top of the situation whatever happens;
Real time vision and thus control over all operations virtually eliminates the need for “fire-fighting” and provides more time to planners and managers alike, to focus on business and practice improvements;
Scenario analysis capability allows planners to research better ways of operating in a safe environment and with high levels of confidence that the resulting plans are realistic and achievable. This changes the role of the planner from number cruncher to trusted adviser to management; a more challenging and rewarding role;
ICRON can interface to any shop floor data collection system, existing or planned, speeding up the flow of reliable and timely information into the planning system and improving the quality and reliability of the planning analysis.