Streamlining inventory management is a critical piece of any organization’s puzzle. The importance of this cannot be overlooked, and when Flightdocs introduced Enterprise in 2015 it is why a fully integrated and real time approach to inventory was included. Since its introduction, the Flightdocs Inventory module has seen a consistent evolution that has allowed our customers to take advantage of the tools and technology available today. By capitalizing on efficiency and mobility, the Inventory Module allows our customers to save time, improve the accuracy of their data, lower costs, and communicate effectively.
The basis for our development and continued investment is that Inventory Management systems for today’s flight departments and operations must include some key features and functions. These include real time integration with aircraft maintenance management, efficient mobile tools and applications, scalable reporting, and API integration capabilities for financial and accounting reconciliations.
Let’s discuss why these features are important and how they impact your operation.
Real Time Integration with Maintenance Management
Managing the inventory for a flight department can be tedious and overwhelming. With the sheer number of parts on any single aircraft, regulatory requirements, and warranty concerns keeping track of it all requires a level of communication and integration that can only be accomplished when all parties are working from a single source of truth.
Real time integration with your maintenance department means that whether a technician is actively working on a task or they are planning for an upcoming event, they can not only see the part information but the status too. Is the part available? Has it expired? Does it have the proper documentation? Where is the part?
“Flightdocs has saved 50% of our time on maintenance and inventory, for all of us. It prints it all out in a package which the maintenance team can then use to do the job.”
Part 121 Director of Quality & Chief Inspector
Take this a step further, and any requests can now be made by the technician at the task level, streamlining and documenting the process for the entire team. Now, what about when that item is installed? With an integrated system that incorporates inventory into the workflow, the inventory status is automatically updated as part installed and all of the where/when/how information is attached, available, transparent and, reportable.
Efficient Mobile Tools and Apps
Inventory systems have long been the home of a complex system of bar codes and custom scanners. With today’s technology, inventory solutions should be able to maximize tools that can be used in multiple functions, and that tool of choice in today’s business environments is either your tablet or your smartphone.
Ease of use and accessibility are a cornerstone of process adoption. When utilizing tools that are already part of the workflow, it increases accessibility and therefore adoption. Today’s smartphones and tablets allow users to use the installed camera for multiple functions including the scanning of barcodes and custom QR codes. For the inventory manager, this means they can scan, record, update, catalog and assign all from one tool that can go with them from the office to the floor.
“Using the bar codes Flightdocs has made it easier for everybody to go into inventory with a tablet in hand and find a location. And when they have a lot of parts to pull, they don't have to remember each one of those locations, they can just take a tablet back with them and find what they need.”
Part 135 Inventory Manager
The adoption and implementation of common mobile devices and applications also allow for operations with multiple bases to ensure they are keeping up in real time with their entire inventory. With a single source of truth for your inventory data, mobile applications allow you to access and act on-demand and in real time.
Inventory control is about knowing what you have, accounting for it, and being able to report on it. With all the data points that are entered for each item, your solution should have in place tools that allow for easy reporting. This report may just be something you can pull quickly and refer to from the desktop or mobile device, or it could be aggregating data and assembling in a format that has been requested for budget proposals, audits, compliance or executive level review.
“I am probably saving 1-2 hours a week. I used to have to generate the reports and now it’s all at my fingertips, so I don’t run reports at all.”
Part 91 Maintenance Manager
This data should be presented in an easily digestible format for quick reference or available in a quick Excel download for custom formatting. Robust filtering options allow you to get the information you need quickly and easily. Eliminating opportunities for introducing errors with intense and redundant manipulation. It all goes back to accessing and acting on data from a single source of truth that is as close to the original source as possible.
Robust API Integration for Financial and Accounting
A common issue most flight operations have is reconciling inventory with the accounting and financial platforms used inside their organization. Modern inventory solutions should be built with an API (Application Programming Interface) available that allows information to be passed between the systems with little interaction from the different parties.
Solutions that have an API allow you to push inventory data directly to your financial/accounting system for real time insight into the purchasing and reconciliation process.
Why is this important? Because it streamlines processes, breaks down barriers and cuts down on the number of spreadsheets and redundant data entry required to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Inventory control and management can be a burden, and depending on the operation requires a dedicated staff. Whether inventory is an extra duty of someone on the floor or has a dedicated team, the tools that they have in place should always enhance and streamline the process, not be a burden on the ones that use it most. This is the very reason Flightdocs tackled Inventory and why we continue to invest in its evolution and development. Want to learn more about how Flightdocs has made a difference in inventory management? Check out the Pathfinder Case Study and pay special attention to Kaitlin Hammond, Logistician.