electronic workflows

Beyond Inspection Prep – Leveraging the Paperless Work Order

Keeping track of what needs to be done is a never-ending task that some people have formulated into a science. The process of tracking your work, however, seems daunting. Most people have the perspective of “see a problem, fix problem.” However, life isn’t that simple. In our industry, you need to be able to identify the problem or issue, plan the resolution, track the implementation and record the solution. So how do you do that? Do you write it down and put it in a box for the next person? Call someone? Send them and email? Shoot them a text? That all can work, but how do you know it’s getting done? What kind of oversight do you have to the process? How are you ensuring compliance? What about generating the reports that your operation requires?

Leveraging technology with an automated workflow that incorporates work orders can simplify this undertaking without adding layers of unnecessary or duplicated work. Learn how to use the work orders, assign tasks, add a tag, mark as complete and add compliance. One place, one record, searchable, auditable and, as always, accessible!

Beyond Inspection Prep

Many flight departments view work orders as only being needed for major inspections since that is traditionally how a service center operates, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Use the tools at your fingertips and incorporate work orders -especially paperless work orders - into your operations. Increase efficiency and compliance without increasing hassle into the maintenance tasks. Below is an example of how a part 91 operator leveraged Flightdocs and paperless work orders in their department. Of course, this is how they used them, and every flight department is unique. Keep in mind that this process was designed for the uniqueness of this industry and is flexible enough to meet your needs!

“As soon as the flight came in, we would open a new work order in Flightdocs, and keep it open until the aircraft left for the next trip. The biggest benefit, is that it allowed you to capture all the maintenance that was done during the time between flights, whether it was scheduled maintenance or squawks. All of the information and tasks are in one spot, and before the aircraft left, it was released and a log book entry was quickly and easily generated from the work order for all those items. With it all being grouped together, you didn't have to hunt down each item individually to put it on a log book or try and figure out when each item was done. You can go straight to that work order, see all those items and quickly retrieve the data you are looking for.” ~Part 91 Quality & Safety Inspector for Fortune 100 company

One often underutilized feature of Flightdocs is the ability to assign users and flags. This is especially useful for larger departments or departments that have multiple people on multiple shifts. It allows for tasks to be assigned to certain technicians and tracked. As the supervisor, you can go through each item on the work order and assign the work to each technician. They will then be automatically notified of the assigned task (which eliminates the “I didn't know” mentality) and that visibility stays with the work order. This allows for anyone to be able to check the status of an item or task. They can see the sign-off status and who it was assigned to, allowing them to ask the technician directly.

Flags are similar in regard to assigning users once an item is complete. The item can be flagged for review, the need for a logbook entry, a second signature, etc. These flags trigger automatic notifications in order to ensure concise and real time communication. For example, if your technician is at the end of a shift, they have finished all the items assigned and need the supervisor who is on a different shift to review the work, they can flag those items, and the supervisor will be automatically notified. This eliminates the classic “turnover lag” because it's all automated.

Flagging an item in a work order also gives an additional method of verifying that the aircraft is good to go and ready for release. Because there is a column that shows the status of the item, and that it’s complete, once the flag is marked as “complete,” it is moved to a second column. This allows the technician who is about to release the aircraft for flight the ability to quickly run down the WO and ensure that everything has been completed and reviewed. Then, they can select all those items, efficiently generating a logbook entry.

Take the time to learn about flagging and how quick it is to build a work order and add items. Reap the benefits of maximizing the efficiency of your operations and communication between departments, all the while providing transparency and accountability.

Benefits of Implementing Electronic Workflows In Your Flight Department

Implementing Electronic Workflows

In recent years, the industry has seen the positive impact of technology on flight departments, and many operators have made the move to an entirely paperless cockpit. Many aircraft are now equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi, and pilots have replaced their traditional binders with an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) or an iPad. Seeing the success that pilots and crews have had, maintenance managers have begun to implement this technology into their operations.

The most common implementation so far has been the switch to paperless processes in the hangar. Taking traditionally tedious paper processes and making them electronic has provided significant benefits to operations around the world, including the elimination of duplicate work and improvement of efficiency. These digital processes are called electronic workflows. There are a wide array of major benefits when it comes to implementing electronic workflows in your operation. These are just a few:

  • Automation: The most obvious benefit is the elimination of tedious processes that often take up a majority of operators’ time. With an electronic workflow, you can identify repetitive tasks as well as those that consume a large portion of your time and leverage the system to do the work for you.
  • Predictive Analytics: Dashboards and reports consolidate system-wide data, allowing managers to make effective decisions about the future of the operation without spending hours or days gathering the data.
  • Integration: Electronic workflows generally utilize an API, which allows two different systems to communicate and share data with each other. Integrations allow flight departments to seamlessly share info between critical systems, like a scheduling software pushing aircraft times to a maintenance tracking system. This eliminates duplicate work and reduces potential errors. This is just one example, but API integrations have unlimited potential for reducing extra work in your operation.
  • Mobility and Connectivity: Almost everyone carries their phone with them wherever they go, and almost every pilot carries an iPad. This mobile capability allows operators to communicate and share information with their team instantly, providing the most up-to-date information on their fleet from anywhere with internet connection.

These are just a few of the benefits of implementing electronic workflows into your operation, but what are some real-world examples of these benefits? How will this actually improve my flight department?

  • Updating Maintenance Items: This historically tedious and time-consuming process can almost be eliminated using automation. Electronic workflows allow operators to “bulk-apply” mass amounts of matching data to maintenance items, such as hours, landings, dates, and even electronic signatures. This completely eliminates hours of handwriting and data entry.
  • QA Process: Every QA process faces their own unique challenges. Electronic workflows allow organizations to set up custom workflows, as well as manage security levels for various tasks. This customization allows operations to streamline their processes while keeping critical quality standards in place.
  • Creating and Storing Logbooks: Electronic logbook creation is one of the biggest benefits that operators are seeing across the industry. Electronic workflows allow operators to easily update maintenance items and create electronic logbook entries in minutes. For larger inspections, this process could take days if done manually. In addition to the time savings, you now have an electronic backup of your logbook entries. (For best practices on data backup, read this)

As you can see, electronic workflows have a wide variety of benefits and real-world applications that operators use every day.

Also remember, implementing an electronic workflow doesn’t have to be an overnight process. Start by implementing smaller components, such as process automation. Every operation has their best practices due to the unique challenges they face. Get a feel for how technology can improve your process, and you will begin to see endless opportunities for reducing manual labor, streamlining processes, and improving efficiency.

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