I lead product design for the greenfield rebuild of an aircraft maintenance application.
This app will eliminate $1M of physical paperwork annually and yield a 20% efficiency gain by person-hours by cutting travel time and paperwork errors.
I lead a team of 4 designers, including myself, with a design budget of $700,000 and a $2.2M development budget over an 8-month project timeline.
The existing aircraft maintenance process included paper work-cards, which serve as a documentation trail of the steps completed while various individuals work on an aircraft.
We built a user story map centered around the work card’s journey from persona to persona throughout the period before the aircraft arrives to when it is released back to the customer. The workflow included maintenance planners who built out the projects, project managers and supervisors who assigned work cards, technicians who completed the work, inspectors who monitored for quality, QC who ensured that technicians completed all documentation, and finally, records who delivered the end product to the customer with their aircraft. Building the backlog with the story map allowed us to convert our research notes into actionable backlog items, helped us distribute our MVP design and development effort across the end-to-end process, and resulted in a multi-disciplinary product team being abreast of the business processes and research findings.
We identified a set of common hierarchal principles among the aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul operation (MRO).
Our network has six facilities across North America, called divisions, each holding several aircraft or projects. Each project comprises hundreds of work cards under two categories; routine and non-routine. We leveraged this IA pattern across our modules, where users would land into their default facility, drill into a project for any given aircraft on the site grounds, and navigate into any work card by clicking the table row. We also leveraged table filtering options across the project and work-card list, filter buttons for management that would double as informative displays, and a method for filtering down the large data sets within a project, including over 1,000 work-cards.
The maintenance planner, responsible for building out the project file with the work cards provided by the customer, is accustomed to managing paper work-card stacks that can easily exceed 6,000 pages for a project.
However, using Azure’s machine vision and language AI suite, we automated several days’ worth of paperwork card splitting into a batch process that takes about two minutes to execute. I helped the development team design the work package splitting algorithm that could accept the customer’s PDF document and process it into hundreds of smaller PDFs, automatically matching the documents to their respective work-card in the application. By implementing this uniquely disruptive method of automating tedious paperwork, we’ll win multiple days a week for the planner persona so that they can focus on more impactful tasks within their expertise, such as building and proposing better project plans and budgets.
Once the work cards are in the system, the aircraft technicians and inspectors execute them, which until this project, our hangar teams would notate using physical stamps and pen notation.
By digitalizing the work card itself, we enabled a host of features that were otherwise only possible by physically moving around the hangar, a space that could often exceed the end-to-end length of a football field. Some examples include stamping and documentation on a work card via e-signature, reviewing availability and checking out parts and tools, finding and attaching maintenance manuals and technical documents, and clocking on to the work card from the tablet rather than a physical time-clock machine. This new UI resulted in substantial efficiency gains as any delivery team member could now access relevant information from anywhere in the hangar, including the aircraft itself, instead of constantly traveling to physical paper trays or computers distributed around the facility.
A work-card moves across a series of paper bin queues through the rigorous aviation quality assurance process in the legacy paper-based process.
I designed and tested a new method of reviewing work cards that would eliminate the need for paper bins and enable immediate transfer from one reviewer to the other.
In doing this, we created a higher level of transparency in the QA and review process that would otherwise have required an employee to physically walk over to inspect a work card.
We expect to eliminate over 10% of wasted time in work-card QA due to eliminating work-card transportation back and forth between crucial quality assurance checkpoints.
With this product, we aimed to disrupt an MRO operation and culture that has primarily worked the same for the past 50 years.
My goal is to create the most disruptive and humane products possible. If you have a similar mission as me or have any questions about this project, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope to talk to you soon!