The aviation maintenance industry has experienced a significant shift towards embracing new technologies since the start of this decade.
For example, just 5 years ago, mobile devices were cumbersome and unwieldy… but today the aviation industry is seriously exploring tablets in the cockpit for critical things like flight manuals, approach plates, and electronic logbooks. When you consider the fact that the first iPad wasn’t available until October of 2010, it’s incredible to see just how far we’ve come in such a short time.
Successes elsewhere in aviation are proving to the Maintenance, Repair, & Overhaul (MRO) world that using well-designed software is the only way to remain competitive in MRO operations. There are a lot of opportunities to address manual processes: paper-based work packages, optimization of maintenance scheduling, adjustments due to aircraft availability, etc. Along with the normal data integrity and workflow controls we expect from software, there are 3 areas where we feel MRO will gain a competitive edge with great software:
- intuitive software that doesn’t require training,
- data relevance to the task at hand, and
- alert notifications when problems are detected.
How have we addressed these in SynapseMX?
SynapseMX is modern aircraft maintenance software built for the users. Our comprehensive solution allows technical operations teams to manage their maintenance in minutes from any device with an Internet connection. We solve communication and productivity challenges while helping minimize unscheduled maintenance events.
Aircraft maintenance software can reduce costs, improve safety, AND be delightfully enjoyable to use… here’s how:
Apps for your mobile devices don’t make you go to a training class to learn them and we think MRO software can work the same way. SynapseMX is incredibly intuitive so that anyone can be productive within 5 minutes. We don’t make you hunt for critical information – if it’s important to what you’re doing then we show it in a simple, easy-to-read view. If it’s not important, it’s not cluttering your screen and causing a distraction.
· Break free from your desk!
SynapseMX is modern software lovingly designed for today’s airline technical operations teams. You don’t sit at a desk all day – that’s why we support tablet and mobile devices. Our support for mobile devices goes beyond just a simple website that can you pinch and zoom to use – we’ve specifically built beautifully simple screens that do exactly what you need them to on those smaller screens.
Stop taking extra maintenance delays! Answer a gate call without losing access to historical data. Resolve an AOG problem when you’re out to lunch. Approve that urgent engineering document revision from the train ride home.
· Making the work enjoyable!
Just because the work is serious doesn’t mean it has to be soul-crushing! SynapseMX makes work more engaging and increases productivity with game mechanics that leverage the natural desire that people have for achievements and status.
Win the gold medal in Engineering for the best response times to Line Maintenance issues this week! Take the lead in Planning for the best optimization of “green time” for maintenance tasks over the quarter! Leaderboards and trophies encourage healthy levels of competition on the performance metrics that an airline cares about.
· Stay in the loop automatically!
Stop wasting time hunting people down on the telephone and watching the fax machine. SynapseMX automatically keeps track of what’s going on for you, so we can keep your teammates updated automatically. Everyone stays connected… effortlessly.
Just completed that task card on that morning originator? We’ve already notified Maintenance Control that the aircraft is ready. Waiting for the engineer to acknowledge your alternate PN request? Go home; we’ll push an alert to you when it happens. You can even configure SMS or email notifications if you prefer.
So what are the challenges in keeping software up to date with the human component of maintenance?
· Building a safety net to catch process problems takes time
A big issue with the human element is the need to discover many problems on your own: inventory issues, out-of-calibration tools, or an aircraft just went out of service in an offline city. Even worse is when the problem isn’t discovered until right before the maintenance is due! SynapseMX actively looks for conflicts and notifies the right people to proactively address issues before they become problems, rather than waiting on you to discover them. And since SynapseMX is beautifully designed, it clearly explains the conflict and presents options to resolve it. Getting all of those workflows and decision points mapped out is an ongoing process, however, due to the sheer diversity of the configurations possible.
· It takes a lot of effort to build something simple
Aircraft maintenance is hard enough without adding challenging software to the mix, but for some reason the software available today decided that complicated and complex is the same as powerful or capable… but it’s not. If you need to cut a piece of meat, which sounds better suited to you: a Swiss Army knife or a steak knife? We’ve spent a lot of time working with usability experts to ensure that SynapseMX has a simple-yet-powerful user experience. We don’t want our users to have to decipher what they’re looking at or how to make the software work – it should be easy to understand. That means a lot of testing with the people in the field to ensure that the product works.
· Support for localization has challenges
While maintenance programs are similar, the nomenclature between airlines can vary: an “engineering order” for one is an “engineering document” at another… but no one wants to overhaul their maintenance manual when they change software solutions. Supporting airline-customizable labels is something that we’re adding – just change the label in SynapseMX to match how you refer to the engineering documents at your airline. Or, maybe the label is fine, but you would just prefer everything in a language other than English… we’re working on that, too, but there are interesting challenges involved. Arabic, for instance, reads from right to left – does that mean mirroring the interface completely to keep the user experience the same?
· Everyone has their own “tweaks” to reported data
Finally, every regulatory agency has their own version of how they want to see data, which means a lot of manual effort to massage that data… and that manual effort takes time! It’s your data, so why should you have to fight with the software to let you have access to it? We’re providing an interface that allows you to create powerful, visually appealing custom reports with LIVE data fed from SynapseMX, but making that just as beautiful and simple as the rest of the solution is something that takes time because we want to get right.
It’s certainly an ongoing process to develop a mission-critical solution like SynapseMX, but we think we’re on the right path. Follow along with us and find out!