Fingermind: MRO industry needs innovation to rationalize itself
The MRO sector, much like the rest of the aviation industry, focuses its energy on rationalizing costs. As a consequence of the ongoing crisis, experts already point to another issue that the industry might be facing soon — a shortage of skilled technicians.
Since 2000, Fingermind has offered its customers digitization solutions for aeronautical maintenance. Today, Christophe Remy, the CEO of the Paris-based company, trusts his software will find a place in the post-COVID strategy of airlines to leave behind what he calls “the Middle Ages” of MRO.
Could you start by telling us more about your company?
Fingermind develops MRO Suite, a software solution for aviation maintenance, which allows easy access to all technical documentation. The suite runs on any tablet, iPad, Android, or PC, and supports Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer aircraft. MRO Suite can operate both in local mode, with all data available on the tablet, and in connected mode, with server access. That allows for line maintenance, where a connection is not always available, as well as connected hangar maintenance.
We also have other products to help maintenance checks, with tools to supervise the proper execution of each task and the assignment of mechanics. All the workflow can be managed from a tablet, and can also be transferred to paper if needed. Our latest innovation uses AI to help with product comprehension and task assignments.
Which advantages does your software offer to your clients compared to what already exists?
The main advantage is that it is multi-fleet. Currently, airlines would have two maintenance chains running parallel, one for Boeing and one for Airbus. The MRO Suite allows having the same product for the entire fleet. It is an economy of scale in terms of cost, training, deployment of software tools. This is becoming fundamental amid the current crisis, which highlights the need to rationalize costs.
We work with two types of companies: either small, which operates dozens of planes, or very large, that has over a hundred. We have good penetration in the Middle East and Asia, hardly in the United States.
Where do you think your next area of growth will be?
Geographically, Europe will be our next target. Several big European companies do not have our product yet. And we will continue our work in Asia, especially in India.
As for our market expansion, we are focusing a lot of our effort on engine maintenance. For the moment we cover the aspects of an airframe taken care of directly by the airline. But we would like to expand on other aspects, known as Tier 1, that include critical systems such as the engine, landing gears, avionics, APUs… Today our software knows how to manage them but we have not yet positioned ourselves in the market.
What about defense? Any prospect in that domain?
Yes, we do plan to expand to this area too. Technically, they are exactly the same products, whether we are talking about an A330 MRTT or even the Rafale. Only the sales cycles are different. Over the last ten years or so, the French military has switched to the S1000D format for its technical documentation - a format that our program supports. We now have a couple of defense projects going on.
With the defense business in mind, could you also expand to drones?
Yes, of course. We even did some tests on land vehicles. The S1000D is a standard for all complex systems. This means that our product can open up to a lot of markets. However, even while expanding, we will remain in the aeronautical maintenance sector for the moment.
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