IBS Software is not a prominent name in the MRO business, but it has been developing its iFlight MRO product and has some new features being prepared for release.
IBS Software, based in Trivandrum, India, is active across a range of industries, predominantly in travel, transportation and leisure, and also in oil and gas.
For aviation, this includes passenger reservations, loyalty management, staff travel management, flight operations, crew operations, cargo operations, and in maintenance and engineering.
IBS’ interest in MRO IT operations dates back to 2008 when the company acquired VISaer, a US-based business.
However, says Reejesh Ozhikandathil, head service delivery, considerable time and money were spent on product development and improvement, with the aim of improving usability to extend the capabilities of the software and turn into more of a Maintenance & Engineering ERP system.
The system now known as iFlight MRO is a fully integrated data management and information system designed to meet the specific needs of third-party MRO businesses and airline CAMO operations.
There has been a flurry of recent contract wins from commercial/defence company in Australia and a few start-up airlines, although the details are covered by NDA’s – the main reason for the company’s low profile.
It has also been incorporated anonymously within other software solutions.
One fully publicised contract was signed in 2014 with Lufthansa Technik Turbine Shannon (LTTS) specialises in the repair of HPT shrouds and HPT/LPT nozzle guide vanes for CFM56, CF6 and CF34 engines.
It had been using the VISaer product which was first to implement the cloud-based version of iFlight MRO and has received annual upgrades from IBS Software ever since.
At LTTS, which is run on Lean principles, iFlight MRO supports the entire business operation, including production planning, material forecasting, inventory management, supply chain, repair order execution, invoicing and collections and management reporting.
The system has the capability to interface with other devices (such as automated vending machines for parts issue) to ensure the highest levels of automation along the entire inventory supply chain.
Multiple dashboards provide graphical views of performance, and the planning modules provide direct synchronisation of component statuses and related maintenance requirements.
It integrates directly with technical documentation, OEM manuals and IPC data, creating maintenance schedules.
All historical maintenance and quality information, financial and cost ledger information and statistical and trending information are collected and maintained to provide complete inventory management, serialised history and configuration management.
Further modules include an employee database, with information including qualifications, licenses, experience, location, attendance and training information.
The Financial Management suite reports all financial transactions via Cost Ledger and optional General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable modules, while the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) modules provide a core system to operate and manage the Maintenance and Engineering organisation as an independent entity.
Sister company Lufthansa Technik Shenzhen is also at the use of iFlight MRO and has integrated it with the SAP system used at the headquarters in Hamburg.
LTTS is now undergoing the same process. At the moment, documents have to be sent electronically for approval but this will happen in real-time after the integration.
Commenting on its use by start-up carriers, Ozhikandathil explains that the initial use is to maintain records about outsourced maintenance activities.
As the airline expands and begins to develop in-house capabilities such as line maintenance and smaller checks, the system can expand accordingly – right up to when it has a fully functioning third party maintenance business of its own.
He adds that the ability to integrate with other systems and other IBS Software products is about to become even more important, as the company is now developing an Integrated Planning Solution.
This will use multiple algorithms and machine learning to provide a solution that will enable airline and maintenance staff to carry out complex simulations of upcoming programmes; for example, aircraft modifications or overhauls, taking into account the possible effect on daily operations and flight schedules.
This will cover aircraft, components, manpower, material, tools and facilities. He says it is a three-phase programme, with annual upgrades. Prototypes are now being showcased to potential customers, with the first release planned in April 2020. Separately, it is developing role-based workbenches.
At the moment, personnel often have to jump between multiple screens to get the information they need to complete a task; for example, the list of aircraft and the work needed on each during an overnight stop at a base.
With the role-based workbench, there will be a single ‘hub screen’ tailored to the actual role of the individual using it. The system will automatically collect and showcase all the necessary information to the user for completing daily tasks.
Read more about the future of maintenance IT solutions here.