APPLICATION: Product In-service Performance Support
(PIPS) -- Phoenix-based AlliedSignal Aerospace provides an array of aircraft
parts, as well as repair and overhaul facilities supporting virtually every aircraft in operation. With a customer
base that includes operators of some of the world's largest airlines and OEMs, AlliedSignal needed to develop a
single system that would track and report on the reliability of all aircraft components.
"When we started this project, we had eight different systems doing component tracking, and they didn't
know about each other," said Chuck Potts, project coordinator at AlliedSignal Aerospace. "This was pretty
inefficient as far as the reuse of the analysis tools, and the integration of data was quite a chore."
The Product In-service Performance Support (PIPS) application was created to bring about a common database and
standard reporting. AlliedSignal Aerospace determined such a system would significantly reduce reporting time,
cut costs and result in increased data accuracy.
The PIPS application supports internal users at AlliedSignal, primarily in project engineering, warranty and
maintenance service agreements organization, legal and reliability engineering. It is also used to share reliability
data with the company's external customers.
According to Fergus Pollard, application architect, the initial challenge was to establish a development team
that had enough knowledge of the business to come up with a worthwhile
system that would be usable across the entire spectrum of the business. "Our actual IS developers, in fact,
didn't have much knowledge of the business," said Pollard. "They were pretty much programmers and IS
developers, not aerospace types."
A core team combining IS developers and business representatives spanning the spectrum of the company's operations
was therefore assembled. "The continuing challenge with that was that all of these business reps had other
jobs," said Pollard. "We had to work hard to keep them constantly involved."
In choosing tools and methods, AlliedSignal went with CORBA. The company also looked for development languages
in which IS had an established skill base. Tools were chosen based on the fact that the company was already using
a great deal of Visual Basic on the front end and C++ on the back end.
Because most CORBA tools were still in beta at the beginning of this project, AlliedSignal found available training
to be pretty much nil. "To a large part, we relied on the breadth of experience of our developers," said
Thus far all of the application's functionality, and two of the company's eight systems, have been migrated
to PIPS. The development tool DAIS, and support from its maker and distributor ICL and PeerLogic, are credited
with the success of the project. And return on investment has already been documented. "We have a business
person who used to spend 40 hours at the first of every month creating reliability reports that he would distribute
across the company," said Potts. "Today that reporting takes only eight hours."
Representing a 60:1 savings, another benefit is the new PIPS format. The new technology allows the equivalent
of a 30Mb PowerPoint presentation to be presented on the Web server in only a half a megabyte in PDF format.
-- Deborah Melewski
Brian Van Tasel
Streamlined report creation and distribution process. Long term, PIPS will result in cost
savings and improved
accuracy, volume and timeliness of data
ICL/PeerLogic DAIS, ERwin, Rational Rose
Servers; HP-UX CORBA server, NT ASP Server; Windows 95 clients; the oracle database