|Heroux-Devtek Inc.'s Landing Gear unit in Longueuil, Quebec, is a state-of-the-art repair and overhaul facility that rebuilds and manufactures aircraft landing gear. Civilian and military organizations such as the United States Air Force - their largest customer - and the Royal Canadian Air Force, depend on the company's 50-plus years of experience in this specialized field to keep their planes landing safely. Operating around the clock, Heroux Landing Gear reconditions and rebuilds the landing gear assemblies used in airplanes such as the Lockheed Hercules C-130 and the Boeing MD/KC-10.
In 1997, Heroux Landing Gear began implementing Baan IVb. Disus was engaged to assist the company's MIS department with the conversion of data from its legacy applications and with Baan customizations.
"Landing gear repair and overhaul is information intensive - even more so than aerospace manufacturing," says Josˇe Bujold, MIS Supervisor and 16 year veteran with Heroux Landing Gear. An assembly arrives, is inspected, and then disassembled, cleaned, sandblasted, examined for stress fractures, reconditioned and then reassembled. "We must be able to track each assembly, piece-by-piece through every step of the process, logging results and making decisions based on the owner's instructions. We also must have up-to-the-minute cost accounting for each job so we can notify a customer if costs approach a specified cut-off threshold."
Heroux-Devtek's award winning Baan Product Configurator implementation outputs an assembly-and-customer-specific procedural framework, or GAMME, that travels with the assembly through its repair and overhaul cycle. "The GAMME is the roadmap," says Sylvain Roy, MIS Analyst, "it gives us routing information and a unique production number, but we also need to confirm that each step has been signed-off and where each assembly is located at all times."
Disus staff worked closely with Sylvain to design and implement a data entry system that makes extensive use of off-the-shelf bar code technologies. Each step in a GAMME has its own bar code. Every location in the Longueuil facility has its own bar code. All employees at Heroux Landing Gear have their own bar code. "With this information scanned into the system," says Sylvain, "we know exactly what stage in the process a job is at, where it's located, and we can use this data for scheduling processes like electroplating and baking."
Baan Hours Accounting was Josée Bujold's project. "Before we implemented Hours Accounting we used to wait 48 hours to receive shop floor data, now we get it every 10 minutes," says Josée. "We had originally budgeted a quarter million dollars for dedicated shop floor terminals. I sat down with Disus and explained what I wanted - simplicity and accuracy. Disus created an interface that worked with off-the-shelf terminals and bar code scanners. We had the system up and running in 30 days for a fraction of the cost of dedicated technology. Now we even use the system to generate payroll. Disus was able to deliver an extremely robust and cost-efficient solution because they thoroughly understand both Baan Tools and the Baan application."
Few things in modern life have the immediacy of aircraft landing gear. If you doubt that, just look out the window the next time your plane is coming in to land and imagine a repair and overhaul facility without state-of-the-art processes, controls and information systems. That is exactly what the professionals at Heroux Landing Gear have implemented in Longueuil. Their Baan system is still a 'work in progress.'
"We're ready to upgrade to Baan IVc4," says Sylvain Roy, "and of course Disus will be involved, just as they have been with our system and database optimizations. But the project that I'm excited about is Inventory. I know we can use the same bar code techniques to capture data from receiving documents. That will give us greater control over supply chain and inventory management."
Heroux Landing Gear is just one business unit of Heroux-Devtek Inc., a successful Canadian aerospace company that has grown steadily through careful attention to quality and investment in technology. The relationship between Heroux and Disus is one of mutual respect. Of Disus, Josée Bujold says, "they make us feel confident because they listen, they always simplify, and they deliver results. We are initiating a number of MIS projects and we expect to tap Disus for valuable technical, application, and implementation expertise."
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