Have you already heard of Robotic Process Automation, in short RPA? If not, no problem you are not the only one, we receive this question quite often. Let's start like this, are you or your colleagues dealing with many manual processing tasks that are repetitive, boring and time-consuming?

Yes, well this is where RPA can come in; RPA is a technology that can be seen as a ‘software’ robot. This robot mimics the actions a human employee would do and does so in the same user interface of the system. Think of data entry into an ERP system, archiving of files or downloading data. These automated actions can even string up to a full end-to-end business process. These 'software' robots are trained for their tasks with the same instructions that are used for a human employee counterpart and every 'software' robot also has its own workstation. Instead of a physical station, it is a virtual one. In these virtual environments they ‘read’ the screen electronically. 

By implementing RPA, your airline or MRO ‘hires’ a digital workforce. The software robot can take care of mundane and repetitive tasks or assist day to day work. However, to be clear from the beginning RPA does not necessarily mean that your airline or MRO needs to ‘fire’ people. Many of our clients use RPA to deal with the increasing workload of engineers and to free them up for more value-added tasks that generate revenue for the business.

Why is RPA so interesting?

We have identified three reasons why it is so interesting for aviation:

Regulatory Compliance

RPA as a technology delivers high accuracy on process execution and will thus ensure compliance to regulatory requirements. An important aspect in the Aviation industry is the compliance to the regulations provided by different regulatory bodies. For example, European Airlines are regulated under the European Aviation Safety Agency. RPA leaves the processes as they were performed by a human employee, thus it does not require any system changes and is not of disruptive nature.

Increase of administrative work and fleet

According to a recent Oliver Wyman study, it is expected that in 2029 the global fleet will increase to 39,175 aircraft, up more than 11,600 from the 2019 total of 27,492. Further, the study indicates that between 2019 and the beginning of 2024, the in-service fleet is expected to grow annually at 3.9 percent. That means that on average 1072 aircraft will be entering the global fleet each year. After 2024 the number slightly reduces to 3.3%.

The increase aircraft under management within airlines also posses the challenge of keeping track of compliance and airworthiness of each of these aircraft. Engineering Managers can decide to expand their departments, recruit and onboard new staff or seek for solutions to automate steps in the CAMO processes or even automate full CAMO processes. Thereby enabling the CAMO team’s ability to support a larger fleet of aircraft without increasing staff and subsequent operational expenditure.

Increase of Data

 

Data is generated throughout the airline and then processed into systems. Most of the times the data is processed by interfaces, without any intervention. However, not all data processing and data handling actions can be performed by interfaces and thus require human intervention. Due to the high amounts and continuous stream of data, these manual processing tasks are often repetitive, boring and time-consuming. Furthermore, organisations usually waste valuable manhours of their engineers, because of a lack of other resources. RPA can take over these repetitive and manually data transfer tasks so that engineers can spend time on value added tasks that deliver revenue for the business.

What are the real gains of using RPA?

  1. Improved business results: Focusing employees on higher value-added activities will result in improved business metrics.
  2. Significant process improvements: Get more done in less time. Add/change processes as needed
  3. Improved productivity: Minimize manual, error-prone processes. Expand virtual workforce quickly and easily.
  4. Improved quality: By eliminating human errors such as tiredness or lack of knowledge, RPA reduces the rate of errors thereby providing a lower level of operational risk.
  5. Improved compliance: All RPA steps are recorded for historical auditability.
  6. It does not replace existing IT systems:  One of the biggest advantages of using a virtual workforce, or an RPA bot is that it does not require you to replace your existing systems. Instead, RPA can leverage your existing systems, the same way a human employee can.
  7. Cost savings: By automating tasks, cost savings of nearly 60% can be achieved.

Industry examples

Automatic update of Stock in two different MRO Software Systems

An MRP provider and its customer are using two different MRO software systems. The consumable stock of the MRO provider is only available in their own MRO software system. The maintenance planning is performed in the MRO software system of the customer but is dependent on the available stock. Further, no adequate interfacing options are available.

This was solved by creating a software robot that automatically makes the up-to-date inventory transaction available in all required MRO software systems and ensure synchronization without any human intervention.

Some of the benefits:

Higher Efficiency & Performance:  More efficiency in maintenance planning due to synchronized stock levels.

Increased Employee Satisfaction: By eliminating the chores like manual data collection from various applications, data validation, employees can devote their time for more creative and innovative tasks.

Time and Cost Savings: No time wasted checking the stock availability between two separate systems and freeing up of manpower to focus on value added tasks to increase operational benefits. If needed it can even significantly save FTEs and labour cost.

Automatic Work Package Printing

Printing of work packages (WP) from the MRO software system. These WPs need to go to the MRO at the end of the day, every single day. Every single item in the maintenance forecast is one execution process and this means that the daily creation of WPs weights heavy on the daily workload of the engineers.

With the help of EXSYN and its software robots this airline managed to achieve full automation of the WP creation process, leaving only one engineer to monitor the automation and handle exception cases. Manhour savings, cycle time reduction, increased service and workload management are the most significant benefits that this department managed to gain from automation

Some of the benefits:

Higher Efficiency and Performance:  Software bots can handle large data volume from multiple locations providing enhanced performance and increase efficiency as no assessment time lost on OEM documents.

Increased Employee Satisfaction: By eliminating the chores like manual data collection from various applications, data validation, employees can devote their time for more creative and innovative tasks.

Greater Compliance: With the reduced risk data entry errors in the airline technical applications and ability to diligently follow the regulatory norms, regulatory violations and fraudulent transactions are reduced.

Automatic entry of ADs, SBs and OEM headline Information in MRO Software System

OEM’s publish technical information on their portals. The technical engineering support is tasked to screen all applicable portals for new publications and download if applicable. Any new OEM publication needs to be manually entered in the airline’s MRO software system for further processing and assessment. In total the airline needs to use technical information from 8 different OEM portals.

EXSYN created a software robot to automatically monitor the OEM portals and if a new document is found, download it, read the content, enter applicable information in the MRO software system publication management module and distribute to required system engineer for further evaluation.

Some of the benefits:

Higher Efficiency and Performance:  Software bots can handle large data volume from multiple locations providing enhanced performance and increase efficiency as no assessment time lost on OEM documents.

Greater Compliance: With the reduced risk data entry errors in the airline technical applications and ability to diligently follow the regulatory norms, regulatory violations and fraudulent transactions are reduced.

How EXSYN can help

EXSYN's team of aviation and IT experts utilize a proven framework and methodology for identifying the right process to automate and build the software robots, the steps include:

  1. Company wide business scan to identify the opportunity for RPA in your business
  2. Develop the implementation strategy
  3. Set up a proof of concept
  4. Creation of process robots 
  5. Implementation of strategy and robots
  6. Being your RPA centre of Excellence
  7. Maintenance of your software robots