We enabled a leading aircraft maintenance company to take on 10 percent more work with no extra resources. And no safety or quality compromises.
When our client called in Proudfoot in December 2016, he knew he needed experts in creating people-driven, sustainable change. He had an ambitious goal: to get more out of the same business resources, to secure year-on-year revenue increase and to do both quickly and safely.
Our client is the chief executive officer (CEO) of one of the world’s largest maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services. His customers include household name airlines and aircraft manufacturers.
The company employs some 4,500 employees working in six hangars totalling 460,000m² in area. It’s the equivalent to more than 100 football pitches. At any one time, up to 12 wide-body aircraft and five narrow-body aircraft are using these facilities.
The key to unlocking higher revenue was working out how best to optimise this complex operation to increase hangar utilisation, says Proudfoot project leader Andrew Xu.
“Aircraft on the ground are not earning money. So efficient use of the hangar slot to get planes in and out quickly, while preventing ‘dead time’, is vital. More ‘hanger days’ means more clients and significant revenue improvement. We had to achieve this with existing resources while maintaining safety and quality standards. It was no small task.”
Built-in factory floor involvement
The first step in the project was to form a change team of employees working on the front lines of our client’s operations. Almost immediately Xu realised how open and willing this team was to change.
“Our own research* over many years repeatedly shows that most front-line employees want to be involved in change but are often excluded. And sometimes they don’t know where or how to start. Change is something that’s directed at them, not planned by them. Involving people where the work gets done is vital to ensure engagement and commitment to the entire process,” he explains.
With the project team formed, Proudfoot provided coaching and capability development in key change skills via processes like Aerial Mapping™, a proprietary methodology. This analyses all the people, processes and systems involved in getting work done. It gives people detailed clarity and understanding of what work happens, why, when, where and how.
With the Aerial Mapping™ completed, the result was a clearly-defined set of improvement opportunities, generated internally and directly linked to operational indicators.
Over the next four weeks, the change team returned to the business, using this new understanding to begin resolving inefficiencies.
“The need to use front-line people to lead, communicate and drive successful change has become the accepted belief. I think many leaders know this. But that’s not the same as knowing how to make it happen. Proudfoot knows how. That’s what they are expert in and that’s why we chose them to help us,” says our client CEO.
A forensic approach to improvement
Next, Proudfoot helped the client team set up a ‘war room’. This allowed progress tracking of all opportunities, sometimes at hourly intervals. It also measured significant improvements. This almost forensic-level of tracking kept the project on track. It also allowed it to gain momentum as the team could quickly see its impact.
One of the improvements identified was the need for a much greater emphasis on planning. This is key for a commercial aircraft MRO service. Improved foresight means more efficient turnaround time for critical path control and risk mitigation.
Delivered 10% improvement in turnaround time without extra cost
The result of this change in emphasis was a 10 percent improvement in turnaround with no extra manpower. Improvements like this have become routine in the business. People now have the skills and capabilities needed to continue identifying fresh opportunities. A new culture, centred on the importance of planning, has increased our client’s confidence in their ability to deliver change. Freeing up capacity allowed them to secure a new client.
So impressed was he by the results of this six-month engagement, our client CEO re-hired Proudfoot. This time the focus was on materials management. Here, the aim was to review on-site stock levels. It included reducing inventory and improving demand accuracy.
While it’s still early days, the two parties are confident in their ability to secure significant additional improvements. They have identified a way to dramatically reduce the accumulation of non-moving stock while maintaining a high fulfilment rate. This and related benefits will become fully-visible in 2019.
* Triggering Transformation, Proudfoot 2018 People Solutions Survey shows that 87% of front-line staff want to be involved in change.