Flexible and responsive, AirTanker is a world-leading aviation service provider. A consortium made up of leading aerospace, and defence specialists and investors including Airbus, AirTanker’s capabilities span end-to-end maintenance, military and civil flying programs, training, and major aircraft upgrades. AirTanker is the organization behind the revolutionary Multi-Role Tanker Transport 'Voyager' capability, delivered to the Royal Air Force and in addition, providing agile capabilities to the civil leasing market.
AirTanker’s primary role is to ensure the safe and effective operation of the RAF’s fleet of Voyager aircraft. The largest aircraft in the RAF fleet, Voyager brought about a step-change in capability. Responsible for all aspects of Voyager’s operation from crew training and maintenance to dispatch, AirTanker has delivered 14 Voyager aircraft under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) contract.
Through Azarc®’s work with the Cabinet Office, and the willingness of the Ministry of Defence approach to reviewing new and advancing technologies to solve the multi-tiered supply chain challenges that the MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operations) industry has to deal with, the team began to build a strong relationship foundation.
Having established a solid working relationship with Airtanker, Azarc® was granted access to interview and form complementary relationships with the companies that formed Airtanker’s supply chain, such as Airbus.
Through these interviews, it became very apparent that the same issues, such as PO management, interoperability of systems, and trusted automation of menial business tasks, were (and still are) commonplace throughout the industry when trying to manage these MRO supply chains.
Processes were cumbersome, resulting in the same data needing to be rekeyed multiple times between supply chain partners; access to a verified chain of events was needed by multiple supply chain actors; issues in getting consignment/part visibility between AirTanker and Airbus based on purchase orders between AirTanker UK and Airbus Europe were evident; manual inputs and data sharing via email were creating significant workloads for both AirTanker and Airbus; and, risk of data entry mistakes was high.
System integration and data sharing were not an established practice within the AirTanker/Airbus supply chain. And, alongside the consortium’s unique supply chain challenges, costly legacy system upgrades that large complex multi-organizational operations tend to face were also threatening to limit what could be achieved.
Trusted automation of frequent business processes was unattainable at that stage, without the integration of existing systems.
Azarc® undertook a scalable PoV, which demonstrated the exchange of information between AirTanker and Airbus using assured part information to clear goods through the UK border. This was identified as being achievable by using the automated customs clearance solution Azarc® developed in partnership with BT, Rune. The use of this automated customs clearance solution also enabled part exchange visibility.
Alongside Rune, Azarc®’s Verathread® software platform would also provide visibility, traceability, and auditability in order to establish endpoints for AirTanker and Airbus, enabling a robust, scalable solution for automated customs clearance. This would provide stable production environment foundations on which future Phases could be built.
To achieve this PoV, Azarc®’s team was to be responsible for the design engineering of an end-to-end process between multiple parties. After navigating the hierarchy of needs and benefits across the multiple stakeholders, the optimization of internal processes via intelligent automation resulted in improved customer service, reduced costs and overhead, increased productivity, improved visibility, and friction removed from the AirTanker and Airbus supply chain.
Significant ROI was achieved through reduced customs transactional costs, demonstrating direct and indirect cost savings and visibility over part location, metadata, and the benefit of a single data set that provided a shared version of the truth between AirTanker and Airbus at part level.
Perseverance was key in this project, with many factors - in addition to the challenges presented by managing multiple stakeholders - contributing to how the PoV progressed. These included the length of time to design a solution based on unique industry challenges, the interoperability of systems, and the need to invest in connecting systems. This was a partnership that allowed Azarc® a unique insight into the difficulties that can arise when introducing innovation into a multi-tiered supply chain; with every supply chain actor operating at a different level concerning understanding the solution and overall process.
Taking the PoV into consideration, PwC estimates that the use of blockchain could cut MRO costs globally by around 5% or US$3.5 billion.