MRO 4.0: Mapping Challenges Through the ILS Approach

MRO 4.0: Mapping Challenges Through the ILS Approach

Henrique Costa Marques (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, Brazil), Fernando Teixeira Mendes Abrahão (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, Brazil) and Guilherme Conceição Rocha (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3904-0.ch012
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The demand for increased efficiency of production processes, while maintaining quality and safety in the operating environment, are permanent requirements of industrial revolutions. In the information age, data acquisition and its use to affect business strategies are being carried out by sensing production lines, tracking processes, and the product itself throughout its life cycle. Industry 4.0 requires an organizational transformation in terms of culture, process, and technology for the organization to be able to harness the potential of information. This chapter seeks to establish the difficulties and challenges of organizational transformation from the analysis of an aviation MRO company in light of integrated logistics support (ILS). The discussion will lead to the points to be taken into account from all elements of the ILS that will produce a roadmap for decision-makers to follow.
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The industrial revolution provides advancement on techniques and processes to create and support products with varying levels of complexity throughout their life cycle, changing the way products are being designed, built, and supported. The fourth revolution is occurring due to the potential use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to create new services and capabilities to help incremental autonomous decision making across all industrial processes. Technologies such as the Internet of Things, wireless sensor networks and virtual environments are bringing new skills so that machines can make inferences in higher-level processes, identifying alternative courses of action and adapting to the new conditions presented at runtime.

In terms of support and design for supportability, such revolution has also brought the ability to track product’s parameters during its operation, providing feedback so that future versions of the product can be better designed and improved. Complex systems that allow the observation of product functionalities degradation are being monitored, and maintenance services are being suggested by prognostic and health management (PHM) systems. Taking, for example, commercial aviation systems, the existence of scheduled maintenance plans may be conservative and strict due to the regulatory authorities of the air transportation activity (Gdalevitch, 2000). New aircraft are being monitored by an increasing number of intelligent sensors that allow identification of the remaining useful life of various components and subsystems. For this new information to be helpful and to adapt maintenance plans promptly, it is necessary to ensure that the new alternative predictive maintenance process is as robust as it is the purely preventive one (scheduled).

Aerospace systems maintenance companies, also called Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), are even passing through these transformations. MRO processes also evolved from pure mechanisation (MRO 1.0) to the development of assembly lines on maintenance activities (MRO 2.0), to the usage of industrial automation and data processing techniques (MRO 3.0), and the usage of decentralised processes based on autonomous agents and cyber-physical systems, developed over an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure (MRO 4.0).

Achieving the highest level of autonomy in maintenance systems implies the ability to prescribe maintenance activities following the item accumulated degradation and possible changes during operations. These operations may or may not follow the exact expected profile, and that is when sensors integrated into a maintenance system can indicate that the system may or may not fly another mission. Aviation future requires this level of awareness and autonomy, and it is called as “smart operations”.

Aerospace MRO companies are part of this environment and should be able to increase aircraft availability with safety and profitability (Rodrigues & Lavorato, 2016). Besides the fact that MROs are not in charge of client ́s aircraft fleet management, actually, they are in charge of the aircraft maintenance as asked by the client. During the execution of scheduled maintenance activities, some unexpected maintenance may occur (e.g., cracks or corrosion detection during inspection), generating new unscheduled maintenance tasks, also called non-routine maintenance (Kinnison, 2004). The unscheduled maintenance creates new job tasks, which have to be integrated into the predefined scheduled maintenance packages. Also changes schedules already defined, brings demands in terms of selecting the right staff to handle the unexpected maintenance tasks and keeps tracking of the whole activity, parts and supplies determination and delivery, bringing variability in terms of downtime. The ability to have autonomous decision support systems to prescribe maintenance activities would then represent one essential facet of MRO 4.0 companies.

According to Haroun and Duffuaa, one of the key considerations is to outline a structure that will support maintenance (Haroun & Duffuaa, 2009). Parida and Kumar also addressed that logistic support is one of the vital requirements for maintenance planning (Parida & Kumar, 2009). The MRO 4.0 demands a series of adaptations in infrastructure, processes, and cultural transformation, so that the available capabilities of Industry 4.0 could be implemented in this environment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Augmented Reality: Is the technology that allows the visualisation of virtual objects or information in front of the real-world objects of interest through a data fusion process and data projection on the person´s field of view.

Failure Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action Systems (FRACAS): Is a system (often run using software) that provides a process for reporting, classifying, analysing failures and planning corrective actions in response to identified failures.

Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO): In aviation are mostly all maintenance activities that contribute to ensuring the safety and airworthiness of all aircraft following the guidelines of the international aviation authorities.

Remaining Useful Life: The remaining lifetime of a component or item in terms of hours of use or cycles. The measure aims to inform the time remaining to take any maintenance action before the failure of the component or item.

Situational Awareness: The capability to perceive the elements in the environment in time and space and the comprehension of their meaning and the status projection in the near future.

Integrated Logistics Support Plan (ILSP): It is a document containing how the support concept will be implemented, prescribes actions for each ILS element and tasks that will be required for the system/equipment supportability according to each of its life cycle phase.

E-Maintenance: Is the research area that identifies the possible usage of Information Technology and Telecommunications to enhance the maintenance management and execution for complex systems.

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