Does Your MRO Model Need an Overhaul?

Demand for aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul services is set to grow strongly over the next ten years. Success in the sector will require incumbent players to get smarter.

It’s hard to think of a business with stronger fundamentals than aerospace MRO. Rising demand for aviation is set to send the size of the global fleet soaring, from just over 27,000 today to almost 40,000 by the end of the decade. Global MRO spending is forecast to rise from $81.9 billion in 2019 to $116 billion by 2029. On the face of it, the principal challenge for MRO players in the coming decade will be ensuring they have the people, facilities, and assets to meet rapidly growing demand.

Yet, behind the headlines, there are bigger challenges lurking for today’s MROs. The aviation fleet isn’t just getting bigger, it is also going through a profound period of transition. Airlines are altering their operating models to meet changing customer requirements, and investing in new technology in efforts to control costs and reduce the environmental impact of their operations. The new generation of aircraft now entering mainstream service are more fuel efficient, more sophisticated and more digital than anything the industry has seen before.

This matters, because new generation aircraft have very different MRO requirements. Advanced materials, such as composites, titanium, and new generation alloys offer a longer lifespan and extended intervals between inspections or component replacement. Plus, complex electronic systems present their own monitoring, troubleshooting and repair challenges.

It also matters because OEMs increasingly want that work for themselves. They are using new digitally-enabled aircraft systems as a way to extend their relationships with operators, using data to provide value-added services throughout the lifetime of an asset, as well as to lock customers into proprietary support offerings.

The new Digital MRO

To remain relevant and competitive in this changing world, third party MROs will need to transform their own digital capabilities. They’ll need to be able to offer their customers the same kind of value-adding services that OEMs are developing. Things like digital twin representations of aircraft, and seamless data sharing between customers, suppliers, and specialist service providers. And they’ll need to use smart planning and operational support tools to maximize the capacity, efficiency, and quality of their own operations.

The ability to deliver those things requires the right digital platform. What’s needed is an open, flexible, scalable, and upgradeable solution that brings together engineering and manufacturing disciplines with expanded MRO capabilities. A flexible platform is critical for connecting disparate information sources that can adapt as your business or regulation needs change. These platforms connect to a wide range of tools and systems without the risk and disruption of a “rip and replace” approach. This provides a way to insert new technologies such as IoT data or predictive analytics, and retire outdated legacy technology to take advantage of future breakthroughs.

By connecting all users and critical information, organizations are able to foster an environment with continuous creativity and collaboration. Finally, a flexible platform allows you to track and automate the changes that occur while maintaining an asset in order to keep its configuration current.

By investing in the right people and utilizing capabilities within the platform to incorporate the engineering and manufacturing disciplines—all with one solution—MROs can expand into the new business opportunities that will soon present themselves. Once disparate systems are connected and business processes are aligned, companies will unlock new opportunities to boost revenues and stay ahead of their competitors.

Know someone who can benefit from hearing more on this topic? Check out the shareable infographic we've created that outlines the issues that MROs are facing along with a blueprint for success.