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Using Business Rules to Improve the MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) process

In Repair Efficiency in Automotive and Aerospace, Joe Barkai of Manufacturing Insights talks about some of the problems of auto and aircraft repair:

The technical complexity of automotive and aerospace equipment, especially in onboard electronic systems, has increased to the point that it poses a significant troubleshooting and repair challenge for service technicians and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) personnel. Complaints about lengthy and costly repairs are rampant, increasing total cost of ownership (TCO), tarnishing brand image, and hurting customer loyalty.

He goes on to discuss various aspects of this problem and identify some solutions, including:

Establish a maintenance knowledge management strategy to capture equipment failures and disseminate best troubleshooting and repair practices throughout the maintenance organization.

Increase the use of enterprise knowledge and apply lean methods to reduce time waste, and control the variability in task time and accuracy.

Personally I think he use of a business rules driven approach can really help both with these two items and with the general problem. Business rules management systems allow those who worked on the products and understand them to document the MRO rules in a familiar fashion; can use inferencing to re-apply rules as things change (e.g. if I decide to replace this part how does that change my criteria for replacing other parts); and can handle the potentially huge numbers of rules involved.

Business rules can be used both for initial diagnostics, for managing repairs and even for deciding when to service something and when to overhaul it. They allow sophisticated decisions to be taken by people without deep expertise and they allow a constant evolution of best practice.

I discuss a couple of repair and diagnostic examples in my "What do people do with this" blog.

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