Maximising functionality for aerospace and defence in Africa


Cloud enterprise software company IFS believes that optimising value and maximising functionality – doing more with available resources – is something it is ideally positioned to help the African aerospace and defence sector with.

Matt Medley, Industry Director, Aerospace & Defence Manufacturing at IFS, told defenceWeb that the company is keenly interested in Africa as a whole, and already has a number of clients in the region. On the defence side, Saab South Africa uses IFS software, and on the commercial aviation side, Ethiopian Airlines is a customer. In addition, many non-African IFS customers operate across the continent. “You will find IFS on airplanes and ground equipment all over Africa,” Medley said.

IFS sees a lot of growth in Africa, especially North Africa, with huge growth opportunities in manufacturing and lowering the cost of production for potential clients. “We are keenly interested in Africa, but are aware of the volatility of that market,” Medley said. IFS already has sales offices in South Africa, including Johannesburg and Cape Town; its local operations are part of its Asia-Pacific, Japan, Middle East and Africa region, and various offices are located across the continent.

IFS has good representation amongst airlines in Africa, which, Medley said, “are our first foothold, followed by manufacturing.” IFS software can help airlines reduce heavy maintenance by 30%, keeping more aircraft in the air. In Africa, Ethiopian Airlines uses IFS aviation maintenance software for its Boeing 777-200LR and Bombardier Q400 fleets. The system is fully operational with engineering, planning, execution, materials and technical records. In 2012, the airline implemented IFS across its entire fleet, shops and customer MRO operations. That same year, the implementation grew to include Ethiopian Airlines’ first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

From aviation to telecommunications

IFS operates within six key industry areas, including aerospace and defence, energy utilities and resources, construction and engineering, manufacturing, service industries, and telecommunications. The company develops and delivers cloud enterprise software for customers that manufacture and distribute goods, build and maintain assets, and manage service-focused operations.

For the defence sector, the company analyses and looks at how it can optimise fleets and assets, especially from a maintenance perspective. It can manage aerospace and defence manufacturing projects; enhance operational efficiency for defence contractors; and improve the asset readiness of defence forces. IFS says business output improvements of 28% more work orders can be completed each day with its solutions. Defence customers include BAE Systems, Babcock, Portsmouth Aviation, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics, amongst others.

Saab has been a customer of IFS since 1994 and used IFS software within its group for after-sales services, design and manufacturing, MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul), engineering, supply chain management, and project management.

Another IFS aerospace and defence customer is the UK’s Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group – several years ago it selected IFS to support its complex project and composite manufacturing business, together with an MRO solution for heavy maintenance for its C-130 Hercules and other aerospace and defence customers.

“By standardizing processes with IFS, Marshall is able to monitor and analyse all business data from a centralised location while benefitting from a modern platform for support activities. The IFS solution is used throughout the value chain, from first contact with customers to estimating, planning, project management, production, shipping, MRO and in-service support activities. The company also leverages the IFS platform to manage all suppliers and contractors and to address complex trade control requirements of the international defence industry,” IFS explained.

For the aerospace industry, aircraft maintenance service providers performing third-party line maintenance and other customers that have aircraft requiring maintenance can reduce the time of aircraft maintenance work and shorten turnaround times with IFS solutions – the company claims its customers have been able to experience a 30% improvement in base maintenance productivity. Aerospace customers include Emirates, Icelandair, Executive Jet Management, Air France-KLM and Southwest Airlines, amongst others.

One of IFS’s biggest aerospace customers is Rolls Royce. IFS supplies its aviation maintenance management software to automate the sharing of data critical for Rolls Royce engine maintenance. IFS software forms a core part of the Rolls Royce Blue Data Thread initiative, supporting predictive maintenance that saves up to 200 unnecessary engine overhauls a year (Rolls Royce typically overhauls 1 500 large aero engines a year).

Working smarter

IFS aims to help its customers work smarter and more efficiently – for instance, Australian shipbuilder Austal saw savings of 9-12% after IFS optimised its labour productivity and procurement processes. IFS software is also used aboard the vessels Austal has supplied to the Royal Australian Navy, and this eases their maintenance burden.

Medley believes that for developing economies, such savings are critical, as they do not have the time or budget to be running inefficiently. In the era of high inflation and difficult economic conditions, this is even more relevant.

IFS has seen massive growth across all industry sectors, and is predicting $1 billion in revenue this year. By 2021 revenue, Gartner listed IFS as the number one company in the enterprise asset management (EAM) sector.