Even the best-run companies encounter technical challenges. It’s how you manage these maintenance requirements that determines your growth trajectory.
North Air is one of the UK’s leading into-plane fuelling specialists, operating 17 managed sites including Gatwick and Stansted airports, along with a nationwide team of mobile vehicle and plant technicians.
To keep its operation running seamlessly, North Air invested in ShireSystem by Elecosoft to digitise its asset maintenance programme and enhance engineer productivity.
An innovative approach to industry safety
Embracing new technology is part of North Air’s vision. The company uses ShireSystem combined maintenance (CMMS) and facilities (CAFM) software to ensure all the equipment it needs to run into-plane fuelling and engineering services are maintained to the highest industry standards.
Safety lies at the heart of North Air’s innovative approach. In the aviation industry, it’s critical that engineering work is completed on time and to a high standard. ShireSystem gives site teams across North Air complete visibility of all work orders.
“We continually strive to improve our safety culture,” shares Shell Guida, Engineering and Maintenance Manager at North Air. “ShireSystem shows us exactly what safety reports and checks are due, so we can reach out to the relevant site and find out what’s happening. Having that traceability is so important to us.”
Sharing solutions and best practices
Beyond safety, North Air runs its entire maintenance programme through ShireSystem, to optimise the performance and reliability of all its vehicles and equipment.
“We record all our breakdowns, servicing and maintenance activities in ShireSystem,” Shell says. “Every site across our business uses the software. We’ve created a standard set of maintenance plans that can be duplicated across sites, and then each team can also add their own tasks locally.”
Centralised engineering information allows North Air to share solutions and best practice across its entire company, to solve technical issues as quickly as possible.
“For example, if there’s been a breakdown on a truck in Manchester and the team there have never seen it before. We can go into ShireSystem and see if a similar problem has occurred at another site before,” Shell notes.
“We can see the full maintenance history for every piece of equipment in the business in one place. ShireSystem is a really great resource for firefighting problems. Can you imagine trying to compile that sort of information through a manual system?”
ShireSystem also allows North Air to stay up to date with regular maintenance requirements for its engineering equipment – flexibly managing upcoming checks and procedures.
For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, most airlines were running a reduced service, so the company parked up many of its vehicles. During this time, Shell’s team paused related maintenance checks in ShireSystem so they wouldn’t show as overdue, and then rebooted them to create a full compliance checklist before putting trucks back into service.
Precision engineering without the paperwork burden
As well as delivering strategic value, ShireSystem is helping North Air to build responsive relationships with its network of 250 staff, without creating a huge administrative workload.
Previously, most of the company’s managed sites were tracking work orders on a whiteboard, which wasn’t shared with head office personnel. Now, requirements are logged through ShireSystem’s Work Requester feature, which engineers can consult as they go.
“Our maintenance people want to be fixing stuff. They don’t want to be in front of the computer,” Shell recognises. “They find ShireSystem a really user-friendly piece of software; once they’ve cleaned up at the end of the day, they just set aside 15 minutes to close all their work orders, and everyone in the business can see exactly what’s been done.
“Making maintenance information more visible allows our engineers to work independently – we’ll only pick up the phone if we can see something is outstanding.”
In addition to keeping colleagues up to date with completed tasks, ShireSystem also helps North Air’s technicians to document their approach and methodology.
“Our most experienced engineers have a little black book of knowledge in their heads, but until we started using ShireSystem, that knowledge wasn’t recorded anywhere that others could access,” Shell explains. “These engineers may think about retiring in the next couple of years, so we’re building a catalogue of information that the future generation can use.”
Going mobile to grow services
Focusing on the future is critical to North Air’s success. The company recently won a large general aviation contract to carry out fuelling maintenance work at small airports, RAF bases and flight schools across the UK.
To support its engineers with servicing general aviation customers, North Air invested in ShireSystem’s Mobile Pro CAFM/CMMS app, which enables teams to manage and maintain assets and resources on the go.
“Our mobile engineers are travelling to different sites each day – sometimes two – and they don’t have time to file paperwork as they go,” Shell shares. “Previously, they may have only had one or two admin days each month, and they had to go back and complete every work order from the past two weeks.
“With Mobile Pro, our engineers can pick up their phone and provide feedback on tasks in real time. It cuts down the time they spend on admin.”
Creating closer customer relationships
On the subject of feedback, ShireSystem is strengthening North Air’s communications across teams, to enhance working processes.
An essential part of its success to date has been training North Air’s Maintenance Co-ordinator as a ‘super user’, who helps each site to set up the software in a way that works best with their business needs.
North Air has also established a number of key performance indicators (KPIs), which quantify maintenance output across each site and the business as a whole.
“ShireSystem gives the whole company visibility of how well the maintenance team is doing,” Shell observes. “I’m not just telling people how great we are; I can really prove it.”
It’s not just internal relationships that North Air is managing closely, either. Strong customer partnerships are pivotal to the company’s success, and ShireSystem is empowering North Air to increase transparency and demonstrate return on investment (ROI).
“When customers ask for maintenance records or details, it’s easy to log into ShireSystem and download what we need,” Shell adds. “If we were still working under the old paper-based system this would be a much more time-consuming task. And we can easily tailor the information they want to receive.”
To further prove value for money, North Air recently invested in ShireSystem’s Costs and Charges module, which links work orders to each customer’s account. This way, they can see exactly what maintenance jobs the company is completing for them each month, and the costs incurred. Data then integrates with North Air’s accounting software, for easy invoicing.
“The Costs and Charges feature gives our customers greater visibility into what we’re spending our time on and how much each activity costs,” Shell says. “They can see exactly how long it took to do something, rather than querying why their bill is for a certain amount.”
Taking flight for the future
Aviation is an industry in perpetual movement, so it makes sense that North Air is continually looking for new ways to drive business value and progress at full flight.
In addition to rolling out Mobile Pro and Cost and Charges, the company is considering the business case for ShireSystem’s Wallboard feature, which shares outstanding maintenance work with teams visually, in real time, via a digital dashboard.
“ShireSystem is really great,” Shell concludes. “It ticks all the boxes for a facilities management system.”
ShireSystem empowers companies to meet compliance and safety goals, extend asset life, cut costs, and increase productivity. Request your free trial today.