A good base aircraft maintenance task allocation software has to meet all safety requirements, provide for staff efficiencies and efficient handling of findings during the maintenance check, allow for comparison of planning and day-of-operation results, and supply adequate status reports to all key personnel.

This is a highly complex task given that a large base maintenance job on one aircraft comprises around 60,000 different tasks, many of which cannot be scheduled in advance. Bearing in mind the interconnectedness of these tasks, which are subject to certain rules, sequences, and other requirements, it is patently obvious that without IT support the task would be almost unmanageable.

And this is where IT systems like INFORM’s GroundStar come in, by supporting planning and allocation to produce the best possible result that takes into account all constraints, qualifications, tasks, interdependencies, and, of course, time frames. The software establishes an optimal template for maintenance progress, assesses actual against planned progress, and automates and prioritises task assignment. An integrated fully mobile workflow provides for streamlined communication and status updates.

The progress of individual tasks is fully documented so that the status of the overall maintenance check is clear and transparent at all times. As the system measures findings during the inspection phase against the expected findings, delays can be anticipated easily and in sufficient time to take corrective action.

Additionally, if a base maintenance job is finished ahead of time, the system can plan further jobs in advance. With the support of INFORM’s Base Maintenance solution planning and allocation no longer rely on years of experience of planning engineers or dispatchers; if these experts are absent for any reason, it has not impact on the quality of the base maintenance operation.

The system helps production planning engineers by planning the phases of maintenance tasks, checking spare availability, and supporting coordination with material suppliers. Shift planners benefit from improved planning of team requirement by the matching staff availability against the planned maintenance activities.

The software helps dispatchers to coordinate teams and their work, as well as monitoring the workflow and seizing control measures. Lead engineers can oversee the progress of work and enter ad-hoc tasks. Engineers, technicians, mechanics, electricians and IFE specialists benefit from improved, fluent communication through the task-based mobile workflow and status reporting.

The core strengths and functionality of INFORM’s new Base Maintenance solution mean that it can manage, monitor and optimise maintenance activities in real time, and correctly re-assign staff based on their skills and location as tasks evolve.

An optimal shift plan that takes into account shift types, shift rules, shift (de)briefings and break rules is generated based on the workload requirement that have been calculated during the planning phase. These shifts are associated to qualifications and are the foundation for assigning shifts to staff, something which is also supported by the solution.

According to Benjamin Schleinzer, project manager at INFORM, said: "Our Base Maintenance solution provides for the best possible long-term planning in an environment that is characterised by uncertain demand. The results can be compared against the short-term planning, which allows for pro-active intervention and re-assignment of staff. In this way each base maintenance job is handled as efficiently as possible from the very beginning."