You have probably heard of Ancestry.com. It helps people discover the story of where they come from. As the website says, “These discoveries can give everyone a greater sense of identity, relatedness, and their place in the world.”
Now imagine if you knew your aircraft engine’s DNA—that is, if you knew exactly what maintenance was performed on which component, by whom and when. How powerful could those insights be?
Pretty powerful, it turns out. It’s what GE Aviation’s Digital Group calls a back-to-birth record of the engine. It is applicable as much to an aircraft as it is valuable to its engine.
Unlike Ancestry.com, the Digital Group has used blockchain technology to create this record. Blockchain has been employed in many applications—from cryptocurrency to coffee sourcing, logistics to legal documents, farm to fork. And now in GE’s case, from engine manufacturing to maintenance.
It’s not easy to relate consumer technology to an industrial application, but that’s exactly what GE does. About 45 percent of commercial aircraft are owned by lessors. About 60 percent of these liquid assets change ownership every five years. Maintenance records are critical to enabling such smooth asset transfers. Parts with insufficient configuration history are not particularly marketable at an individual level; it creates a portability challenge resulting in millions of dollars of orphaned Used Serviceable Material (USM).
GE creates back-to-birth records using blockchain technology based off of industry-accepted Ethereum and Microsoft’s frameworks, as well as our parts manuals, to enable new capabilities such as notarization. This creates a secure, digitized paper trail for used and Life Limited Parts (LLP) for TRUEngine programs. As David Havera, GE Aviation’s data scientist and resident blockchain guru, puts it: “Blockchain drives up to 50 percent higher residual value for used spares material, a faster resale process, easy portability and improved productivity for asset transfers.”
Cash reconciliation is another way that GE applies this cool technology to a hot issue. MTU Maintenance is a leading European engine Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operator that offers rebates to GE for using MTU components for maintenance of CF6 and GE90 engines. For all the benefits, it is never easy to reconcile rebate amounts. Rebates are dependent on the volume of components utilized during maintenance. Calculating their value requires a significant investment in time and resources.
GE applied blockchain technology to bring visibility to each step of the sourcing and maintenance process in real time. Kornelia Kremer, Procurement Manager MRO for MTU Maintenance, is a fan. “Our blockchain collaboration with GE helped us release more than $10 million in unsettled cash in revenue sharing reconciliation. We benefitted significantly from GE’s expertise in this area and look forward to seeing what happens next.”
Whether it’s discovering where you come from or knowing your flight will take you home safely, blockchain provides insights you can trust.