MRO developments02 July 2024

he TPE331 Honeywell engine, installed in the Dornier 228 aircraft

Maintenance, repair and overhaul is BIG business. The global aircraft component MRO market size alone is expected to hit US$25.7 billion by 2028. Given there are countless other revenue streams across industry, Brian Wall takes a closer look at the latest developments

Many Maintenance, repair and overhauls (MROs) work with older equipment and machinery, which can be more difficult and expensive to maintain and repair, as its efficiency deteriorates and it becomes more prone to breakdowns. This situation can leave an organisation in a never-ending reactionary relationship with clients to get their assets and production up and running again as quickly as possible. Having the right systems in place to recognise the point of no return – when the cycle of ‘breakdown and fix’ is no longer sustainable – is essential. Not only will that enable an organisation to maximise the returns gained from the use of existing equipment and machinery, but also signal unequivocally when the time has come to invest in new equipment.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) plays a key role in helping organisations to identify that crucial point of crossover from the old to the new – and one company employing it to improve business outcomes is Relayr, whose primary focus is on releasing data insights from existing equipment, machines and production lines. “This enables industrial companies to shift from CAPEX- to OPEX-based offerings to their respective markets, providing a combination of IIoT technology and its delivery with financial and insurance offerings,” states Kevin Keim, senior account executive. “As an MRO, you play a crucial role in ensuring your customers’ machinery runs smoothly. However, you also face many challenges,” he states.

These challenges include:

  • Skilled labour shortages: a major challenge for MROs;
  • Cost pressures: MROs today face pressure from their clients to keep costs low, while maintaining high levels of service quality;
  • Technological change: MROs struggle to keep up with the changing pace and technology investment required to stay competitive;
  • Supply chain disruptions: this can lead to shortages, delays or quality issues, and impact the ability of MROs to deliver services on time and within budget;
  • Time constraints: Repairing an electric motor, for example, can be a time-consuming process, especially if replacement parts need to be sourced.

    The solution, Keim argues, is to turn to IoT devices to provide real-time data on the performance of equipment and machinery. “This technology enables MROs to monitor and analyse trends and predict when maintenance will be needed. That helps MROs to optimise schedules, reduce downtime and minimise costs. Vibration routes can help us understand asset performance, but envision having daily data points on an asset to give a true trend over time for your clients, while increasing the capacity of your current workforce.”

    Keim also points to how IoT sensors monitor the condition of equipment and machinery, detecting changes in temperature and vibration that could indicate potential issues. “Combined with AI, this technology helps MROs identify and address potential problems before they become significant. By adopting a proactive approach, MROs can flip the traditional service and repair paradigm, reducing the risk of equipment failure and downtime, and delivering tangible and intangible value to their clients and new service revenues to MROs.”

    Also, monitoring an asset to predict failures before they occur helps reduce the workplace hazards associated with it failing while in operation. “Sudden machine breakdowns present an immediate and dangerous threat. IoT can help MROs improve efficiency, increase employee satisfaction, reduce costs and enhance customer service.”


    Although it’s not an option to repair all damages as they occur, it is still important to preserve the safety of installations by tracking and monitoring such damage – rigorously managing risk and following the evolution of any damage over time in order to prioritise the repairs that are deemed urgent and critical. “This approach is essential to avoid putting problematic infrastructure at risk and to allocate the proper resources to the right places to limit deterioration,” argues engineering services provider Creaform. While, ideally, 100% of the damages should be repaired, it concedes, in the context of ageing infrastructure, asset owners lack the human and financial resources to repair everything.

    “The solution involves tracking and monitoring infrastructures over time, which involves digitising measurements and comparing data between maintenance rounds.” This point is where 3D scanning comes into play, as it can detect the slightest change in a defect condition and dimensions, points out Creaform. “With the integrity assessment power offered by 3D scanning, technicians can acquire large amounts of high-accuracy data to conduct in-depth assessments of corroded, complex areas. As the solution is traceable, plant owners can use the saved data to document, follow and compare corrosion and damages over time. Over the years, 3D scanning has acquired much credibility in metrology and the pipeline industry, with the level of accuracy (up to 25µm) and data quality to compare the evolution of hardly perceivable damage over time – with only slight variations in geometry or thickness.”


    Aircraft component maintenance, repair and overhaul is a critical aspect of the aviation industry. It involves the systematic inspection, maintenance, repair and restoration of aircraft components to ensure their safety, reliability and compliance with regulatory standards. According to the latest report by IMARC Group, ‘Aircraft Component MRO Market Report: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2023-2028’, the global aircraft component MRO market size reached US$19.3 billion in 2022. Looking forward, IMARC Group expects the market to reach US$25.7 billion by 2028, exhibiting a growth rate (CAGR) of 4.82% during 2023-2028.

    “This intricate process is essential for sustaining the airworthiness of aircraft and ensuring passenger safety,” says business consultant Vimika Reddy. “It encompasses a range of activities, from routine inspections to extensive repairs. It begins with thorough visual and non-destructive testing to identify signs of wear, damage, or degradation in components such as engines, landing gear, avionics and structural elements. Based on the findings, maintenance procedures are formulated, often involving disassembly, cleaning, replacing worn parts and calibrating sensitive instruments.”


    One key aspect of MRO is collaboration – and serves as a fundamental part of its operations for DMD Solutions, which specialises in engineering services for the aerospace industry. One such engagement required giving technical support to a leading European MRO organisation in the optimisation of the overhaul and heavy repair capabilities for the TPE331 Honeywell engine, installed in the Dornier 228 aircraft.

    The MRO organisation involved is a division of a large group that is also focused on the lifecycle management, operation and availability of military systems – especially for the armed forces and a number of commercial customers. In this instance, its customer owned and managed a fleet of Dornier aircraft with non-OEM parts. “It was of paramount importance, as required by the certification agency, that original and non-OEM parts had completely separate paths in maintenance operations, which added an extra challenge to the internal organisation,” says DMD Solutions.

    Turn Around Time [TAT] was reduced by around 60% within 18 months of collaboration. “Moreover, the tools and processes introduced were used by upper management to achieve cost and configuration control, leading to important commercial decisions for the project. Also, the flexibility provided by the external consulting team brought in many technological capabilities and allowed in-house engineering to concentrate on tackling day-to-day business more efficiently.”

    Having purchased the Dornier 228 programme in 2021, German aircraft manufacturer General Atomics AeroTec Systems has begun production of the latest version of the passenger and special mission aircraft, the Dornier 228 NXT.

    Brian Wall

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