MROs Move Towards Automation & AI to Solve Organizational Challenges

As MROs are faced with a resource crunch and an ever-changing supply chain while trying to support customers efficiently and cost-effectively, they are increasingly turning to new tools and processes to transform their organizations.

This article is also featured on AviationPros.

Keeping aircraft, running, off the ground and in the air has never been a simple task. It’s now become more complex than ever before because of today’s landscape. This has made it difficult for MROs to source the parts they need to service their customers in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

It’s clear old ways of doing business won’t fly in the new world of aviation. Therefore MROs are flocking towards AI and automation technologies to improve their operations. 

The Challenges of MROs

Currently, MROs are hampered by resource crunches and a fluctuating supply chain that is nearly impossible to forecast.

This new ecosystem has added a new level of complexity due to a lack of visibility, capacity constraints, material scarcity, and excessive costs. Coupling this with customers wanting their MRO partners to turn around tasks faster and better, has created a nearly impossible task.

Now MROs are tasked with being expected to deliver even more while having fewer resources and navigating unprecedented obstacles. 

It’s become evident that past manual and cumbersome processes are ill-equipped to handle the rigors of today. Change and improvement are no longer nice to have, but are critical to remaining viable and successful. 

At the root of MRO operations is being able to have in hand the right aircraft part at the right time. This puts aircraft parts procurement at the foundation of organizational improvement. 

Fortunately, emerging technologies are paving the way for tangible improvements in parts procurement which extend through the entirety of MRO operations. 

Enter in the Age of AI & Automation Technologies

Artificial intelligence-backed automation technologies are leading the way towards the digital transformation of MROs. 

AI ensures that routine parts are delivered on time and at a good price point, which means MROs can keep their operations running smoothly and their customers satisfied. 

MROs can monitor lead times and manage the flow of parts and components through the supply chain. By using real-time data and analytics (as opposed to only using historical information), they can identify and mitigate procurement delays while prioritizing the delivery of components critical to meeting customer deadlines. 

Specifically, thanks to AI and automation, MROs are able to:

  • Connect their M&E systems. to automatically push PNs
  • Multi-round source to hundreds of suppliers in minutes
  • Automatically consolidate quotes
  • Receive recommendations of best quotes based on your business rules
  • Automate PO placement to major OEMs & long-tail suppliers
  • Track POs and manage delays
  • Obtain market data insights

With the power of AI, a part requirement can be matched against market availability to determine the right quantity to be purchased. It suggests the best source based on the lead time, condition, price and logistics, executes the purchase, and automates delivery tracking. 

Among the use cases are:

  • Routine replenishment
  • Mods
  • Virtual consignment
  • Initial provisioning
  • C-Checks
  • WSP & AOGs
  • Backlog management
  • Data insights
  • Forecast-based ordering
  • Open PO resolution

What MROs are Achieving 

Not only do AI-backed automation technologies have a lot of promise, but they are also delivering real results. 

New technology is giving the industry a shot in the arm. AI enables MRO purchasing teams to standardize procurement processes, be more efficient and make better purchasing decisions. Purchasing turnaround times are being significantly reduced from days or weeks to minutes, allowing MROs to reduce inventories thanks to faster purchasing cycles.

Some of the tangible outcomes include:

  • The automation of up to 90% of purchases, allowing human buyers to focus on exceptional cases.
  • Up to 20% cost savings compared to previous manual processes.
  • An improvement of 15% in on-time delivery.
  • A reduction in time from part requirements to a PO; sometimes 100 times faster.

We are seeing a new digital paradigm taking shape based on data insights powered by AI disrupting the current distribution model that has been run on personal relationships and manual processes. For the MRO Industry, the digital future is now, and it’s finally tapping into its full potential.

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