In the aviation industry, it is becoming increasingly critical for MRO companies to meet customer demands for quality and shorter lead times. Firms operating in this sector must re-evaluate their business strategy due to the global market’s volatility and MRO industry difficulties forecasting. Lean is a trustworthy, tried-and-true company operation paradigm that can be embraced in the face of severe economic instability and ever-increasing global competition.
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As the global economy continues to develop, demand for air transportation is likely to rise dramatically. Over the previous nine years, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that passenger traffic has grown at a faster rate than the global GDP. For airlines that rely on high-flying planes, maintenance costs can account for two-thirds of the plane’s purchase price and account for 10% to 20% of the airline’s international costs (Syltevik et al., 2018). Aviation maintenance expenses are likely to rise as a result of the industry’s fast expansion. Through 2022, the global aircraft maintenance industry is expected to increase at a pace of 5.2% on an average year, then decrease to 3.8% by 2027 (Rawashdeh, 2018). By performing systematic research, this study investigates the present condition of Lean, TQM, and Six Sigma adoption in the MRO business, and its long-term viability and use in the aerospace MRO industry.
Quality Management Principles in Aviation
An organization’s quality management is the process of defining and administering the activities necessary to accomplish its quality objectives. Customer happiness is one of the outcomes of quality management. In addition to price, convenience, service, and a slew of other factors, quality is a significant contributor to consumer happiness impact (Nsien, 2020). Typically, organizations do not prioritize customer pleasure as a goal in and of itself. The long-term assumption is that increasing customer happiness will lead to increased sales and profitability. Developed by Dr. Saaty in his 1980 book, the Analytic Hierarchy Process is a powerful decision-making aid that may help the decision-maker prioritize options and arrive at the best conclusion possible (Nsien, 2020). The AHP helps to obtain both the objective and subjective components of choice by eliminating complicated judgments to a series of pairwise assumptions and then analyzing the results.
Process, Techniques, and Programs Available to Improve Quality Management in Aviation Production and Maintenance Settings
Today, in a highly competitive industry, airlines and airports understand the necessity of providing a positive customer experience. Over the past year, airline owners and stakeholders have changed their attention from “larger and faster” equipment to customer service. The quality of the customer experience is strongly linked to the security of the airport and the ability of the airline to respond to emergencies to increase revenues (Nsien, 2020). Aviation quality assurance refers to the monitoring framework used to guarantee that the standard standards specified by both ICAO and the State Civil Aviation Regulation authorities are satisfied at every level of the equipment, systems, and procedures (Rawashdeh, 2018). As a part of functional quality assurance, an aviation maintenance inspection system should also be in place to monitor and verify that the manufacturer’s recommendations are being properly followed.
Aircraft Quality Managers ensure that the Quality Assurance procedure is being correctly implemented. Quality Managers (QMs) are in charge of a complete Quality Control team. State Civil Aviation Authority clearance is required for a quality manager in aviation. Internal Evaluation Programs further oversee and assess the QA management department. Each company needs to have a Quality Assurance Program (Rawashdeh, 2018). This is significant as it enables the organization to focus on its goals and realize effective outcomes.
Total Quality Management (TQM)
As a result of the advent of Total Quality Management (TQM), several firms have benefited greatly from its implementation. Therefore, businesses can meet the demands of both internal and external customers by providing high-quality goods and services, and they can also build a successful business. The best way to define TQM is to present a long-term strategy for success with the primary objective of making customers happy (Nsien, 2020). Participation by all employees in the improvement of services, products, processes, and how they are carried out by the company itself. It may also be described as a management method for a customer satisfaction business that encourages all employees to participate in the process of continuous improvement. Modern Quality Management Systems, the successor to TQM, use many of the same features.
Basic Elements of TQM
The degree of quality is determined by the consumers who enjoy the services of the aviation company. Every employee should contribute to the achievement of the group’s goal by doing all in their power to achieve it. The commitment of all employees will only be realized if they are bold enough in the workplace when entitlement has emerged, and the workplace has been enhanced with a pleasant ambiance (Syltevik et al., 2018). When it comes to managing regular business operations, high-performance work systems are built on a foundation of recurrent improvement attempts. Additionally, every employee should contribute to the achievement of the group’s goal by doing all in their power to achieve it (Nsien, 2020). This will result in a collective realization of the organization’s goals and general growth in the aviation sector.
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Lean in Aviation Management
Lean manufacturing is concerned with eliminating waste from a manufacturing process. The purpose of a continuous process improvement endeavor is to increase efficiency. This entails getting rid of anything that does not provide value to the consumer base. It is also concerned with the enhancement of quality and performance (Syltevik et al., 2018). The aviation industry is associated with significant processes that should be done with the highest accuracy they deserve.
There are several ways in which some aspects might go wrong, including canceled flights, misplaced luggage, extended layovers, missed connections, and delayed flights. However, with the implementation of a lean management strategy, it is possible that such challenges may not surface as frequently (Syltevik et al., 2018). True, weather is a factor in some of these concerns, but an airline cannot influence it. As a result, McKinsey & Company reports that airlines face delays at the gate when planes land, underutilized aircraft, as well as other expensive equipment, and employees that lie idle for long periods (Agyeman, 2021). Implementing the Lean approach’s tools and approaches in the following ways might minimize or even eliminate several problems:
Passengers may now print their boarding passes and luggage tags as they arrive at the airport, thanks to new automated check-in techniques offered by several airports. Some consumers may experience long delays simply because they have never done this before, even though this expedites the process (Agyeman, 2021). The situation is not any better when airline employees are on the clock. To put it another way, McKinsey & Company found that agents spend as much as 50% more or less time checking in passengers than one another (Syltevik et al., 2018). The lean strategy’s ability to remove this sort of variation is one of its most successful features.
Passengers’ escort down the walkway and into the plane is typically the cause of delays. Lean concepts and practices have the potential to decrease or eliminate a huge number of the delays caused by duplications, delays, redundant activities, and poorly applied rules (Agyeman, 2021). Deconstructing a process into sub-processes, Lean Management tools determine the details of each operation and the amount of time it takes to execute each activity (Agyeman, 2021). To avoid mistakes in the evaluation process, this type of data-driven, non-emotional assessment eliminates the use of “estimated measures.”
As a first step, gathering information about the present operation can help identify areas for improvement and actions that are unnecessary and can be eliminated as part of the Lean approach. Tracking the movement of passengers, the number of aircraft that have been delayed or canceled, and the number of incidents of missing luggage requires a methodical methodology (Syltevik et al., 2018). Customers’ direct input from surveys and focus groups gives airline executives the knowledge they need to know what works and what does not in their business.
Six Sigma Approach
In the aviation industry, Six Sigma can assist experts in addressing the crucial concerns of passenger safety, cost savings, and customer satisfaction. Six Sigma is a good fit for the aviation sector because it provides management and frontline employees with a common language that allows them to work together to enhance overall quality (Kaushal, 2021). The Six Sigma methodology also equips aviation personnel with a toolbox brimming with best practices that can be used to repair process problems and enhance overall performance.
As a management method of continuous improvement (CI), lean-six-sigma is seen as a process that may continually enhance services or goods to attain high product/service quality. Customers’ satisfaction levels in the aviation business must be raised constantly for the industry to thrive today. Many managerial methods (such as lean-six-sigma procedures) may be used to reach this level of satisfaction, which is necessary to secure the long-term profitability of the firm (Kaushal, 2021). Airlines and airports are complex organizations whose areas of comparative advantage and efficiency are dependent on factors that airport management is more likely to control (Hong et al., 2019). It is anticipated that this will result in the optimization of resources, increased performance efficiency, and the steady elimination of all types of waste over time. Some of the important areas that may benefit from six sigma include:
Six Sigma can help reduce the time it takes for customers to down the escalator and into their seats. This technique has several time delays, duplications, and duplicate stages. By decomposing the onboarding process into sub-processes and collecting data at each level, Six Sigma teams may gain a deeper understanding of the process (Kaushal, 2021). Each stage of the boarding procedure is described in full, along with an accurate time estimate. We will never accept estimates. Teams with substantial experience have learned not to rely on intuition, as projections may be incorrect, resulting in major delays to the project’s schedule (Hong et al., 2019). Airlines may be able to reduce overall loading times if the boarding process is properly understood and precise and objective time tracking is implemented.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operations that are efficient are crucial to an airline’s profitability since grounded planes diminish an airline’s ticket revenue and hence its profitability. The sooner maintenance and repair staff can finish regular maintenance and repairs; the sooner the flights can be loaded with ticket-buying customers (Kaushal, 2021). Six Sigma can assist MRO workers in completing their tasks in a safe and timely manner by executing many projects, including:
- Developing communication systems that offer real-time maintenance status to all levels of the organization.
- Maintenance coordination at a variety of various levels of the shop
- Getting the most out of the crew’s time on their allocated responsibilities
- Continuous process improvement may be encouraged through data collection, reporting, and analysis.
- To eliminate waste, optimizing tool allocations and job assignments are necessary.
Six Sigma provides a wide range of tools to assist airlines in operating more safely and effectively (Hong et al., 2019). If one faces a delay at the airport, if the ticket price is too expensive, or if the luggage is misplaced, one may now inquire about how Six Sigma might assist them.
Flight attendants can benefit from Six Sigma training as they handle critical problems such as passenger safety, cost containment, and traveler satisfaction. For the aviation industry, Six Sigma is advantageous because it establishes an understanding of a common language that allows management and frontline employees to communicate and collaborate on quality improvement activities (Kaushal, 2021). Besides that, Six Sigma provides aviation personnel with a toolkit teeming with best practices that can be used to aid in the resolution of process problems and the improvement of overall performance.
A large number of travelers share their dissatisfaction with extended layovers, missing luggage, and delayed or canceled flights each year, adding their voices to the chorus of complaints. With a strong customer focus, Six Sigma can assist the industry in making essential changes. Six Sigma teams can obtain the raw data they need to identify critical quality (CTQ) needs through surveying customers, conducting focus groups, and conducting interviews with them (Kaushal, 2021). CTQs are well-defined, exact requirements that must be completed to meet or exceed the expectations of the client.
In conclusion, the adoption of strategies and approaches such as TQM, Lean, and Six Sigma will play a vital role in the improvement of Quality Management in the aviation industry’s production and maintenance sector. Using these three ways, the customer’s needs for outsourcing airplane maintenance may be fully understood. Descriptive surveys are then used to determine the technological requirements. With the house of quality of QFD, all of these aspects are combined to build quality management solutions. Future study into airplane maintenance outsourcing management is needed because the subject is still relatively young and there is still much to learn. The implementation phase of the approach created in this research can be discussed in future research, as well as any potential issues that may occur.
Agyeman, N. E. S. (2021). The impacts of lean principles on the production of civil aircraft in Boeing. Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology.
Hong, K. S., Gu, G. J., Lee, S. C., & Bae, S. M. (2019). Analysis of Innovation Activities in Aviation Industry. Journal of the Society of Korea Industrial and Systems Engineering, 42(4), 165-172.
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Kaushal, A. (2021). Execution of Six Sigma Methodology: Airlines Industry. Sage. Web.
Nsien C. B. (2020). TQM and the Role of Customers’ Orientation in Organizational Performance in the Nigerian Aviation Industry. Fulafia Journal of Social Sciences, 3(4), 119-133. Web.
Rawashdeh, A. M. (2018). The effect of TQM on firm performance: Empirical study in Jordanian private airlines. Modern Applied Science, 12(9), 140. Web.
Syltevik, S., Karamperidis, S., Antony, J., & Taheri, B. (2018). Lean for airport services: a systematic literature review and agenda for future research. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 12(9), 140. Web.