Increasing availability reliability

Sikorsky’s new Customer Care Center is dramatically shrinking aircraft on ground events and turnaround time, helping keep pilots in the air.

Since unveiling its new Customer Care Center in Trumbull, Connecticut, last March, Sikorsky has significantly reduced the volume of aircraft on ground (AOG) events by 72 percent and reduced AOG turnaround time (TAT) by 66 percent. At the same time, response time for routine and urgent orders has also improved.

Sikorsky director of fleet management, supportability and training Simon Gharibian attributes the immediate success of the center to a committed two-pronged approach to aircraft support.

The first is a dedicated AOG response department staffed 24/7 with an interdisciplinary team of experts who focus solely on AOG parts request fulfillment.

“Traditionally, AOG requests were the priority for our customer care representatives,” said Gharibian. “The time it would take to complete AOG orders took time away from routine and urgent orders, sometimes causing them to turn into AOG orders themselves. By now having a dedicated AOG team, we’ve allowed day-to-day orders to move faster, avoiding the delay that may have caused them to turn into AOG orders. There is a direct relationship between our reduction in overall AOG volume and the new dedicated representatives for each type of order.”

While the Customer Care Center has allowed Sikorsky to significantly cut TAT for AOG orders, it expects even further reductions as the company’s forward stocking locations (FSLs) continue coming online.

Sikorsky’s FSL in Stavanger, Norway, is a shining example of success in motion. Since beginning operations to serve Scandinavia in September 2016, it has serviced more than 300 part requests with an average response time of less than one hour. Similar stocking locations are in development in Brazil and Asia.

“While our goal in 2016 was to have an AOG TAT of less than 24 hours, we will continue to push to exceed that metric,” said Gharibian.

The second side of the Customer Care Center, which works hand in hand with supporting AOG and routine parts requests, is a robust fleet management program combining operators’ maintenance data with Sikorsky health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) data.

Sikorsky has gathered HUMS data on its aircraft in the field since 2004, which itself provides significant insight into fleet-wide maintenance and parts needs. Using this combination of current and historical data enables Sikorsky to better predict the volume and types of parts needed around the world so it can work to have them available when and where they’re needed.

“The intent for our fleet management side is to get more accurate forecasting for overall volume and geographical needs for stock,” said Gharibian. “The more appropriate the stock is in our FSLs, the better our response time.”

HUMS, the crystal ball

HUMS is a successful monitoring tool that allows the operator and Sikorsky to consistently monitor the health of the aircraft, using data to predict and/or identify potential issues. Not only does the operator download data to the ground station software from each aircraft every day, but Sikorsky also reviews the data daily, flagging potential issues. While the operator can review the information and identify concerns, a second level of checks is automatically provided by Sikorsky.

“If our tools see something suspect, we flag it for further review by our Customer Care Center analysts,” said Gharibian. “We use this HUMS data to predict the needs of one customer up to the whole fleet before maintenance or replacement is required.”

HUMS is also used to reduce maintenance time and expense for operators. For instance, the January Federal Aviation Administration-mandated S-92 pitch change bearing check was followed up by a Sikorsky-launched tool in the HUMS software to monitor the bearing. Once an operator physically checked the bearing, the software tool was in place to continue to monitor it daily, saving inspection time.

When it comes to AOG, Gharibian said HUMS also allows the fleet management team to refine parts predictability.

“We know there are certain component consumption increases in sandy environments, so we’ll stock more of those components in Saudi Arabia than the North Sea,” he said. “The same goes for the hot and high environments of India, the humidity of the Gulf of Mexico, and the severe conditions on the north slope of Alaska. If we’re taking more than 24 hours to respond to AOG requests in any of those areas, we’re focusing on better predicting needs and further shortening response time.”

Even with the new focus, Sikorsky’s Customer Care Center continues to support all models of the fleet.

“If it says Sikorsky on it, and it’s still flying, we support it,” said Gharibian. “In the end, our goal is to keep our customers flying. We’ve seen tremendous success in increasing aircraft availability this past year and we’re committed to continuing to improve our response time to further support our customers.”

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