Duncan Aviation technicians are consistently asked to examine their work processes and look for potential improvements in efficiency and customer experience without affecting safety and quality. Locating and tracking assets used in aircraft projects was one thing that recently came to the forefront as an area for potential streamlining.
Jumping at an opportunity for continuous improvement in customer service internally and externally, Duncan Aviation put a system in place to effectively track assets.
Asset management can be complex for organizations with multiple locations, various department hand-offs, and in-field technicians. Being able to quickly and accurately locate assets enhances project coordination and better equips team members with the assets they need to hit project delivery goals.
Not only can assets be quickly and easily located at any time, and in real time, but reports can be generated on where assets are most often used and then strategically located so they’re more convenient and better organized.
At the beginning of 2018, a CIP (Continuous Improvement) committee, with the help of members from IT (Information Technology) and R&D (Research & Development), set out to develop a process for naming, organizing, and tracking cage storage in an effort to reduce by 50% the time searching for parts and often-used GSE equipment at our Lincoln, Nebraska, facility.
Prior to the project, our storage cages were not consistently identified, and the storage areas were not clearly defined across the Lincoln campus. Now, all storage locations are consistently named and easily identifiable for team members within our equipment removal system.
“Asset management frees up our team members to focus on the task at hand, ensuring our customers receive the greatest return on their investment.”
- Jared Stauffer, LNK Interior Manager
Permanent labels have been affixed to three sides of all the cages, and they’re numbered in sequential order with labels that are clearly visible from across the hangar floor.
While this was taking place, team members from R&D and IT were hard at work developing the asset trackers and programming within our internal databases to make finding equipment and parts even easier for team members on the floor.
R&D created a mapping device to store the Wi-Fi signatures of the hangars and storage locations. More than 100 locations were mapped into quadrants to make pin-pointing an asset easy across the campus. The asset tracking devices are installed on the top of items so the signals between the asset tracker and the Wi-Fi routers are not blocked. The R&D department designed the hardware and firmware for these devices, which are extremely power-efficient. The devices wake up 5 minutes after they’ve been moved or on a fixed-time interval if they haven’t been moved, so they can report their current location to a database. The database then compares this information to previously stored signatures and reports the location of the device.
The software also enables us to schedule necessary and/or preventative maintenance. Within the software, the voltage is tracked and displays the current battery strength for each device. When it gets below a certain threshold, a work order is created for battery charging or replacement.
The goal set by the CIP committee was to reduce the time spent searching for parts and equipment by 50%. As a test, we sent a team member out to find Cage 72 without a tracker installed. It took him almost 12 minutes. Then, we asked him to find cage 77 with a tracker. It took him less than 2 minutes.
Lincoln’s Interior Manager Jared Stauffer says, “Asset management allows Duncan Aviation to better keep track of moving assets that are passing through many departments and/or teams during the life of a project. It frees up our team members to focus on the task at hand, ensuring our customers receive the greatest return on their investment.”
This asset tracking system is currently being implemented at our facilities in Battle Creek, Michigan, and Provo, Utah. Duncan Aviation’s asset management efforts allow us to streamline services and improve customer relations. The system is also capable of administering health checks on equipment, for example the PSI levels of oxygen bottles. With the status, condition, and location reporting of assets easily accessible, preventative maintenance can be optimized. And, the system is easily scaled upwards as the company continues to grow and add additional services.
Duncan Aviation’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Lake explains the importance of the asset tracking system: “Duncan Aviation offers business aircraft operators virtually every aircraft service they need and we require the real estate to do just that. With roughly 130 aircraft in-house every day across our three main facilities, the asset management system helps assure we can quickly track items needed to best serve our customers.”