Ramco Aviation, a division of Ramco Systems, has customers such as Dubai-based Emirates Airline and Abu Dhabi-headquartered private aviation firm Falcon Aviation Services amongst its 65-client portfolio. The company’s vice-president – head: aviation, Ranganathan Jagannathan, spoke to us about the importance of using a good IT system in the aviation industry and how the firm's solutions can help airlines.
Jagannathan says the main driver behind clients seeking a new IT system is to reduce costs, but other benefits such maintenance planning and inventory management are also high on the checklist.
“Airlines are always going towards reducing costs, because it is a very competitive industry with very low margins. And so the main driver for them to optimise, automate and go for any IT system is to save costs,” he says.
“Other advantages sought are the ability to plan for the maintenance with material provision and forecasting, which can result in efficient inventory management and lowering inventory costs. While all of these points to costs, these are some of the areas they look to gain benefits in terms of maintenance planning, in terms of obtaining an optimal lead for maintenance, and for making sure the materials are provisioned in time. And, to make sure the inventory is maintained adequately, and the system automated.”
Jagannathan adds that managing warranties is one area overlooked by many IT systems. Some suppliers cover warranties for miles flown, others for age, and others for number of take-offs and landings. But many aircraft operators don’t monitor these effectively and can miss savings up to US$1 million per plane.
“Warranty is an area in need of better traceability, and traditionally airlines and MROs haven’t been able to make best use of warranties which are provided by the vendors. But with systems like ours, one is able to track the warranty and get the maximum benefit. They will not lose sight of the warranty provisions, which are provided as part of the agreements with the vendors,” says Jagannathan.
Ramco provides enterprise-wide M&E/MRO solutions through its Ramco Aviation Series 5 Suite, of which the company says addresses the business and regulatory requirements of the industry by, amongst things, helping to automate operations; reduce overhead costs; manage inventory more effectively; increase aircraft availability; reduce AOG (aircraft on ground); and control operations on a business-for-profit basis.
Jagannathan says the company’s focus has been to provide a system that is easy to use.
“You can have any number of functionalities built in, but if it is not easy to use, you will find the system implementation a failure,” he says. “Our strength has always been in making sure the customers are able to use it continuously without any handicap, and there is no resistance for any system roll-out of ours.”
He reveals that the vast majority of the users will be mechanics or people doing the maintenance, and so it is important that the execution parts are simplified.
“For airlines, the main advantage is the integrated solution, ease of use, the process automation, and straight through processing. If, for example, there is a part that needs to be put through to repair, the traditional way is to do it step-by-step: look at the repair, what items need to be issued, and then send it out, and then send it back; all these can take many steps with several users intervening, and this takes time. So we have cut down those configuration parameters in the system. Where there is a straight forward case, the system automatically takes it through the process with minimal need for intervention. So the user or the mechanic or the supervisor can focus on their jobs, and the reporting is done at the end, rather than every step somebody pushing the button to take it to the next step,” says Jagannathan.
The firm has also implemented role-based workspaces in the Series 5 software, where an inventory operations person can be assigned job-specific streams instead of getting bogged down with multiple unnecessary streams.
Jagannathan reveals that the firm is constantly expanding its portfolio and has recently been providing complementary solutions such as a solution making sure the line maintenance activities are tracked as per the regulations, requested by many large airlines, or software configuration tracking.
He adds that the firm also stays at the fore-front of technology. “We have applications on smartwatch and Google Glass, which can make life easier for the mechanic, so he can do his job with a flick of the button, or standing with the Google Glass,” he says.
And the best thing, says Jagannathan, is that the software doesn’t need to be redesigned should there be any new changes to be added.
“Our software doesn’t require changes, because it is built on the latest technology, which is more of a plug and play. And it is completely an object-oriented development, which means any changes that we do doesn’t call for a whole redesign,” he says. “Changes are mainly making sure that the latest requirements have gotten through, which doesn’t affect the existing technology.”