The Royal Air Force has saved £300m after aerospace manufacturer BAE Systems installed a web-based enterprise resource planning system to speed the maintenance of Tornado aircraft at RAF Marham in Norfolk.
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The ERP system has cut the inventory of spare parts the RAF base holds, halved maintenance man-hours, and enabled 85% of spare parts to be available within one hour, BAE Systems said last week.
Within the next two years, BAE Systems plans to extend the eCapability system as a model for supporting other aircraft, Royal Navy vessels and British Army armoured fighting vehicles.
Martin Garner, eCapability product manager at BAE Systems, said there was a growing trend towards running maintenance on military sites in partnership with the armed forces.
"The challenge is deploying an ERP application in an environment that already has highly joined-up IT systems. These systems have to interact with staff in-house and outside with suppliers," he said.
The Ministry of Defence awarded BAE Systems the £947m, 10-year ERP contract in December 2006. The system went live at the beginning of 2007.
BAE Systems tailored IFS Applications 2001 and 2004 software to run using a web interface. The system enables RAF and BAE staff to review orders, check maintenance schedules and demand forecasts across several databases.
BAE Systems developed bespoke security systems to manage transactions. It also incorporated a business intelligence component from Cognos software for reporting performance.
Simon Hunt, project director at BAE Systems, said the eCapability system was delivering the predicted benefits, but the integration of the technology with the RAF's business processes had been challenging. This required BAE Systems to consult extensively with users to ensure the system would deliver benefits.
"The business and the IS are an integrated capability, the benefit cannot be achieved without one or the other," said Hunt.